Chinese reeducation camps are 'Cultural Revolution on steroids' (Update)

Earlier this month the NY Times published a story on leaked Chinese documents detailing the creation and administration of re-education camps designed to brainwash Islamic citizens. Sunday, NBC News published a follow-up, also based on leaked documents, which provides much more information on what goes on inside the camps. Based on the NBC report, this isn’t an effort to root out extremism. China has effectively made even innocuous signs of belief in Islam punishable by a year in a prison-like camp. As one experts says, it’s the “Cultural Revolution on steroids.”

The leaked records include a memo laying out protocols for facilities that more closely resemble prisons focused on indoctrinating detainees. Preventing escapes is paramount, the documents say, and a chief goal of the camps is “ideological transformation.”…

[German researcher Adrian] Zenz describes the camps as “political brainwashing centers.”

“The Chinese know that what they’re doing in these camps is like the Cultural Revolution on steroids,” he added. “And they want to hide this, especially from the Muslim world.”…

In contrast to the Chinese government’s public statements, the memo shows that vocational training was always meant to be a facet of the re-education camps, but not their focus. “Ideological transformation” is listed as the first basis of assessment in a ranking system that determines “rewards, punishments and family visits.”

The memo goes on to outline a timeline for re-education — “students” have to be re-educated for at least one year and have met the standard for “ideological transformation” before they can graduate to “vocational skills improvement class” for an additional three to six months…

“They’re trying to get the students to think: ‘You have a belief in Islam. You have read the Quran. That’s evil. That’s bad,’” Zenz said.

Allegedly, the intention of these camps was to limit violent extremism, but in practice the Chinese are rounding up anyone with any connection to Islam. So, for instance, someone who refuses to eat pork is immediately subject to a year in one of the camps. And the experience inside the camp sounds like something out of the novel 1984.

Before breakfast, detainees would have to praise President Xi and the Communist Party. Then they would be taken to a classroom where they would sit on the floor, surrounded by guards, to learn Chinese and listen to a teacher recite communist propaganda.

“They used to explain that our religion came from another country, not native to our land and people,” Dawut said. “It’s a kind of ideological disease.”

All the while, Dawut said, they lived under the constant threat of punishment. It wasn’t unusual to hear distant screaming or crying reverberating through the walls, she said. One time, she faced it herself.

Dawut said one of her fellow detainees was an older woman who suffered from diabetes but had no access to insulin. “She was suffering all the time,” Dawut said, “and she couldn’t sleep.”

Feeling pity for her, Dawut gave the woman her piece of bread, but she said her act of kindness was caught on surveillance cameras and seen by the guards.

“The guard came with a long rubber baton, and they began to beat me, and beat me so hard that I couldn’t stand up,” Dawut recalled as tears streamed down her cheeks onto her shirt.

An estimated 1 million people in Xinjiang have been sent to these ideological prison camps, which is incredible considering the camps have only existed for a few years. As I said last week, the free world ought to be much less concerned about fascism and much more concerned about this ongoing experiment in high-tech brainwashing in the world’s most populous nation. Xi Jinping is providing a working model for communist dictators around the world to emulate.

Update: The AP has published a video on the information in the leaked documents.