China’s duplicity on Kashmir also stands exposed in wake of these revelations

To preach but not practice - is China's policy. Its animosity towards its Muslim citizens is now well-known but it has terrorist Masood Azhar's back in the UN. And now its duplicity stands exposed. China Cables are a set of leaked government documents. The memo shows that Uighur Muslims are being forcibly detained in a network of camps. Muslims are being brainwashed and forced to adopt the mainland Chinese Mandarin culture. China has been torturing Muslims in its country while backing terrorists like Masood Azhar who are living in Pakistan

by Akrita Reyar

Serving self-interests is the greatest goal in foreign policy. And few have mastered the art like the Chinese. The shocking details - that have emerged from the prison camps run by the Communist government in the Xinjiang province - expose the duplicity of the policies the Dragon nation follows. The clampdown on Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region and the attempt to indoctrinate them into ‘Mandarin’ culture runs diametrically opposite to the Chinese objection to Government of India’s internal matter - the decision to bi-furcate Kashmir and revoke Article 370. And also flies in the face of their earlier but prolonged objection to declaring Pakistan-backed and Pak-based Masood Azhar as an international terrorist.

The leaked Chinese government documents - that have been accessed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists along with its 17 media partners - show that three years ago China came up with the brainchild to proselytise Muslims of the country into the mainland ethos, crushing the unique identity of the Uighurs and their way of life. Uighurs are a minority Turkic ethnic group who are affiliated intimately with the Central Asian Islamic culture.

China’s crackdown comes in the wake of its fears that this Muslim minority may foster dissent in the country and may indulge in terror activities, even while it is objecting to Indian government’s constitutional and internal policies and consistently backing Pakistan and Islamic terrorists it is sheltering.

The details emerging from Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region would put the worst clampdowns around the world to shame.

In terms of scale, there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims in a network of high-security detention camps, which are ostensibly being run to impart voluntary re-education and skill development. But the reality is that these prisons, set up to quell any fermentation of extremism, have already seen a million Muslims pass through their premises. The leaked documents called the China Cables reveal a detailed memo that has strict instructions on the operations in these camps.

The compounds are under a high level of surveillance with security guards, watchtowers, a police station linked with every cluster and multiple layers of locks on dormitories, corridors, floors and buildings. The reformatories are also fenced from all sides and there is zero tolerance to “escape”.

The key goal is “ideological transformation” and “compliance with discipline”. They also "promote repentance and confession"

"The students should have a fixed bed position, fixed queue position, fixed classroom seat, and fixed station during skills work, and it is strictly forbidden for this to be changed.”

"Implement behavioural norms and discipline requirements for getting up, roll call, washing, going to the toilet, organising and housekeeping, eating, studying, sleeping, closing the door and so forth."

There is limited contact with family, friends and the outside world. Worst of all there is psychological torture of not knowing how long you will be apprehended in prison. The detention could be indefinite. People who have been detained in these camps have spoken about reports of widespread abuse, violence, rape and torture.

Sophie Richardson, the China Director at Human Rights Watch, has said: "This is an actionable piece of evidence, documenting a gross human rights violation…It's a total transformation that is designed specifically to wipe the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang as a separate cultural group off the face of the Earth."

China has also issued a categorical directive to arrest Uighurs with foreign citizenship and to track Uighurs living abroad.

Considering such extensive and iron-fisted measures, it is laughable that China immediately issued a statement objecting to and expressing “serious concern” over the Indian government’s move to try and bring normalcy to Kashmir.

Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri, indirectly pointing to but without naming Xinjiang, had rebutted Chinese protestations by saying that the amendment of the Constitution was purely an internal matter and the sole prerogative of India. He had added that the move "had no external ramifications whatsoever, and was intended to enable good governance and provide social and economic justice to the people of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, affording them the same rights available to citizens in other parts of India."

In many ways, the revocation of Article 370 will help the local Kashmiris in the long term as they begin to enjoy the same rights as the rest of the country including equal salaries, perks and schemes related with ration cards, pensions and Right to Information. With people from the rest of the country now allowed to invest in the Valley, more economic opportunities will present themselves to locals who can be gainfully employed in fruitful jobs rather than earning illicit money by participating in orchestrated demonstrations and protests.

It also needs reminding that before Masood Azhar was finally declared an international terrorist, China had four times vetoed the move including on March 13, 2019, this year saying it wanted more time to conduct a "thorough, in-depth investigation on the matter". Azhar was released by India in lieu of the safety of passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC 814 in December 1999. He has since then founded the Jaish-e-Mohammad and has been involved in a series of terror strikes including the one on Indian Parliament in 2001, the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008, Pathankot airbase base raid in 2016 and the deadly Pulwama blasts this year that killed more than 40 paramilitary personnel.

China has thus exposed that it explicitly supports terrorists while muffling the voice of Muslims in its own country. To serve its self-driven interests, it has been backing the nefarious activities of its all-weather friend Pakistan and promoting and backing activities that are detrimental to counter-terror measures around the world.

But the truth is now out and for all to see. Even while Masood Azhar remains China’s favourite terrorist, Beijing’s duplicity should be called out and exposed, most of all by India. And New Delhi must use this data on Xinjiang camps along with examples of excesses in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet when they raise the slightest objection to India’s policies, which might be debatable but are at least carried out in an open and democratic manner.