Why did China’s mass ethnic roundup go unnoticed for so long?

The Globe And Mail 
Date: September 20, 2018
By: Doug Sanders

In this Nov. 4, 2017 photo, residents walk past a statue showing Mao Zedong near a square in Kashgar, in western China’s Xinjiang region.
NG HAN GUAN/AP

How, in the most populated country, do you make a million people disappear? At first it sounds old-fashioned: You spend billions building a vast archipelago of high-security indoctrination camps across the mountainous far-western region of Xinjiang, you lock down the entire region, you seize hundreds of thousands of people from their families, for no significant reason other than their ethnicity, and you put them in coveralls, sometimes in chains, and shut them into those institutions, where they are forced to submit to authority.

The next question is more disturbing: How, in an ultraconnected country, do you keep the rest of the world from noticing and raising alarm?

For a surprisingly long time, Beijing succeeded. In May, 2014, Chinese authorities began their “Strike Hard Campaign Against Violent Terrorism,” aimed at pacifying the ethnically Turkic (Uyghur) population of Xinjiang. Initially, this involved arresting thousands on suspicion of Islamic terrorism or separatism.

In late 2016 or early 2017, the region opened a much larger network of “political re-education” camps, which have no basis in Chinese law and do not follow due process, and filled them with hundreds of thousands of people who were not legally accused of anything.

In recent months, the world at last raised alarm. Last month, the United Nations, after confirming the population of these camps, called on China to close them. Earlier this year, diplomats from Canada, France, Germany and Switzerland formally asked China to discuss the camps. Beijing refused.

Yet it was not governments that exposed those camps.    [FULL  STORY]

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