Chapter 10 China’s Re-Education Camps in Xinjiang: Curing the Disease or Killing the Patient?

In: Detention Camps in Asia
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James Leibold
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Abstract

Beginning in early 2017, China detained upwards of a million Muslims in extrajudicial ‘transformation through education’ camps in the far western region of Xinjiang. Inside these camps Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim ethnic minorities were subjected to coercive political indoctrination in order to ‘cleanse’ Xinjiang of the ‘three evil forces’ of terrorism, separatism and extremism. The camps were also designed to shore up Chinese Communist Party control over this restive borderland where the dominant Han ethnic group still comprises a demographic minority. This chapter explores the pathology and cultural logic of these mass internment camps, seeking to place them in the broader context of ideological remoulding efforts in the People’s Republic of China. Like the counter-revolutionaries of old, Uyghurs and other Muslims are now naturalised as abnormal, sick and dangerous, thus requiring invasive cultural and political ‘surgery’ to cure their ‘disease’. This radical treatment has serious and hazardous implications for Chinese society under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Detention Camps in Asia

The Conditions of Confinement in Modern Asian History

Series:  Social Sciences in Asia, Volume: 41

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