Chinese Christians indefinitely detained in “re-education” camps
Over 100 Christians in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang have been indefinitely detained in overcrowded “re-education” camps, where they are subject to “brainwashing” on communism.
Detentions in these camps – also known as “mind-transformation centres” – have increased since the country held its 19th Communist Party Congress in October 2017.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that authorities claim the detainees have “extremist” or “politically incorrect” views, such as excessive praying or accessing banned websites.
The Christians are being held alongside around 120,000 Muslims, who the authorities have increased their crackdown against. Most of the Christian inmates have a Muslim background, and have been caught up in the crackdown.
According to sources, the conditions in the camps are appalling: rooms which once held eight inmates now crowded with 14 people, and detainees must lie on their sides, because of the lack of room.
A local Christian revealed that members of his church have been sent to camps, some being held for a month, half a year or even longer, which has torn apart Christian families. “The teacher in the school is paying special attention to my children after the authorities told the school about my husband,” said a Christian woman whose husband is in detention.
Authorities claim the camps are just schools that teach Chinese language and Chinese norms, but HRW has warned that they are modern “brainwashing” institutions.
Another Christian woman added: “I don’t know where my husband is right now, but I believe that God still uses him in prisons or camps.”
Xinjiang is home to the majority of China’s 10 million Muslims – mainly ethnic Uighurs. It is a volatile province, with a history of ethnic uprisings and anti-government violence. In 2016, the Chinese government installed Communist hardliner, Chen Quanguo, as the party secretary of Xinjiang. He has increased a series of repressive policies, like increased surveillance and armed troops, which he also used during his previous role as party secretary of the Tibet Anonymous Region. The authorities claim it is an integral part of their wider policy of “extremism eradication.”