• Reading Level 5
Science | History | Geography | Citizenship | RE | PSHE

Exposed: China’s great brainwashing scandal

Is it any of our business? Leaked documents reveal the “brainwashing” of hundreds of thousands in Chinese prison centres, but critics caution against comparisons to Nazi concentration camps. Can you imagine being jailed for two years for having WhatsAppWhatsApp is popular as a cheaper alternative to text messaging in many developing countries. In Kenya, 97% of internet users use WhatsApp.  on your phone? This is what happened to Sarsenbek Akaruli from Xinjiang, a remote mountainous region on the northwest border of China. WhatsApp is used for private communication and is banned in China. The government says it is used by terrorists and it sent Akaruli to a "vocational education and training centre" in November 2017. His family haven't seen him since. On Monday, the BBCThe British Broadcasting Corporation is the UK's national broadcaster.  released shocking evidence of what is really going on in these training centres. Leaked government instruction manuals explain how these centres are run. According to Sophie Richardson at Human Rights Watch, they reveal "a gross human rights violation". A million people detained without trial, brainwashed and subjected to psychological and physical torture. These are not education centres. They are "concentration campsAlthough the term 'concentration camp' is now mostly associated with the terrors of the Holocaust, it had been used before. In the Boer War of 1899-1902, Britain set up concentration camps for rebellious black Africans, where thousands died.". Eleven million Muslim Uighurs live in Xinjiang. Culturally distinct from the Chinese, they have long resisted attempts to integrate their region into the rest of China. China says it is fighting terrorism. The leaked memos show how the government monitors the daily lives of Uighurs for suspicious behaviour. Something as ordinary as leaving your house by the back door can trigger a red-flag and a visit from the police. Grow your beard or download an app and you can be put in a camp for a year. Uighurs have their own language, dress and customs but, inside the camps, they are forced to learn Chinese, abandon their religion, dress and think of themselves as Chinese. "Behavioural violations", says the manual, must be punished to make sure that "students truly transform". Before returning to their families, they are forced to work in closely monitored factories. If they fail to speak Chinese, they can be sent back to the camps for further education. It is described as the largest internment since the HolocaustThe murder of six million Jewish people in Europe by Nazi Germany. Members of other minority groups were also killed. , and compared to "ethnic cleansingThe systematic forced removal from one area or killing of an ethnic group, with the aim of creating a region that is ethnically homogeneous. " and "cultural genocide". China calls this "fabricated fake news". But does comparing China to Nazi Germany help the Uighurs? And is it any of our business what goes on inside China? Chinese whispers Some argue that all countries monitor and educate their citizens to control extremism and prevent terrorism. Comparisons to Nazi Germany are neither accurate nor helpful and will only make things worse for the Uighurs, as China will become more defensive, aggressive and isolated. This is just another example of "Sinophobia" and it's easier to blame China than it is to focus on our own problems. Others say this is moral cowardice. Look down at the label on your shoes: Made in China. We buy cheap products churned out of Chinese factories and these leaks show that China is guilty of forced labour and ethnic cleansing. If we want Chinese goods and investment, we must insist that China abides by basic human rights and international law. China must allow independent observers into the camps. KeywordsWhatsApp - WhatsApp is popular as a cheaper alternative to text messaging in many developing countries. In Kenya, 97% of internet users use WhatsApp. 

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