History Repeats Itself

By Sarah Aguilar

Sarah Aguilar, Global Features Editor

There is no greater shame in human existence than turning away when confronted with human cruelty. 

It is a constant in history that one is always able to count upon. From the enslavement of civilizations to dictatorships rising to control others to the simple-minded ignorance that led to death and destruction, cruelty has been with us.

These horrid but all-too-familiar events are happening in China with its kidnapping and containment of Uighur Muslim citizens, the harvesting of internal organs, and brutal torture and death. It was leaked two days ago in Chinese government documents detailing the purge of ethnic minorities inside the country. The treatment of the Uighurs has never been a secret, at least not a well kept one, as the government has never felt the need to conceal its cruelty. It revealed another constant in life: those in power often suffer no consequences for their actions.

The Chinese government holds all of the power in this exchange; citizens are threatened with death if they even so much as speak about the injustice. Parents are kidnapped from homes, and students face the prospect of their parents’ death if they do not cooperate with the government. Families have been torn apart and placed into real concentration camps with no sign of escape or even release. According to The New York Times, “Since 2017, the authorities in Xinjiang have detained many hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps. Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of the party.” China is a country in which ethnic Han Chinese make up more than 90% of the population, but there are substantial ethnic minorities. In Xinjiang, the far northwestern province of China, the majority of the population belongs to Muslim ethnic groups. The central government in Beijing has long treated these groups with suspicion and sent large Han Chinese populations to settle Xinjiang. 

Logically, it falls on those outside the country to speak of these horrors, call attention to them, and demand action in response to the cruel subjugation of minorities taking place right before our very eyes. And yet there is nothing that is being said, nothing that is being done. These cruelties have been going on for more than three years, but the silence is deafening. 

Our fear and greed prevent us from doing anything. Nothing will be done to try to correct China’s behavior. Its economic hold on the United States and other countries is far too powerful to even consider action. China’s influence is spreading far beyond its borders, seeping into almost every country in at least one way, shape, or form.



Source: According to Ramzy, Austin, and Chris Buckley. “’Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Nov. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/16/world/asia/china-xinjiang-documents.html