'Show absolutely no mercy': China's mass detention of Muslims reveals the ugly truth about its war against terrorism

The NYT expose is one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China's ruling Communist Party in decades

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'Show absolutely no mercy': China's mass detention of Muslims reveals the ugly truth about its war against terrorism

Leaked documents released in the United States (US) media may have revealed a very ugly truth of our times - China's clampdown on more than a million Uighurs and its drive against other Muslim minority communities into prisons or detention camps, a part of its mission against "terrorism, infiltration and separatism" under Chinese President Xi Jinping's directive to "show absolutely no mercy" in these matters.

If that entire sequence of sentences seemed too long, it is because China has been practising entirely corrupt practices of human rights abuse, under the garbs of long sentences in the bureaucracy. The story here broke in the New York Times, where a report by Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley titled, ''Absolutely No Mercy': Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims' brings the spotlight on some very shady business in East Asia.

The 403 pages of internal documents, reportedly leaked by "a member of the Chinese political establishment"  is one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China's ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an inside perspective regarding the continuing clampdown in the Xinjiang region of China, a predominantly Muslim majority region where the "authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons" over the past three years.

The leaked papers, as stated by the NYT, offer a striking picture of how the hidden machinery of the Chinese state carried out the country’s most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era. Mostly, they bring to light the actions of the key player behind the series of events - China's President and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping. Though they do not record Xi directly ordering the construction of the detention facilities, they, however, narrate Xi's commitment to eradicate "instability and influence of toxic beliefs" by clamping down on Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

One of the statements by Xi, as recorded in the nearly 200 pages of internal speeches in the leaked papers, reads, "In recent years, Xinjiang has grown very quickly and the standard of living has consistently risen, but even so ethnic separatism and terrorist violence have still been on the rise. This goes to show that economic development does not automatically bring lasting order and security."

What does this essentially mean? The authoritarian government greenlighting a brutal crackdown on a million or so members of a minority community. A degree of the terrible enormity of China's actions can be estimated from the cold detachment with which senior party leaders have ordered drastic and urgent action against "extremist violence" including parents being forcibly taken away before their children to mass detention camps. These places, however, have been presented as benevolent and unexceptional by the Xi government before the international community, where China has described them as "job-training centres that use mild methods to fight Islamic terrorism". One of the papers even note how, if pressed, government officials were to tell students that their parents and relatives were not criminals - "They're in a training school set up by the government" - yet were made to understand that they could not leave these "schools" and even the children's' actions could influence how long their relatives stayed in these camps. "I'm sure that you will support them, because this is for their own good," said the officials as they policed the children, "and also for your own good."

The papers expose the horrific face of the Chinese establishment, specifically in its double standards on the war against terrorism, since China had, in the past, vetoed India's motion to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist as many as four times in the United Nations. The country also has prevented the UN from taking effective action against the terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which has already claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama earlier this year.

The number of people who have been swept into the camps remains a closely-guarded secret, but one can only hope that progressive communities step up to prevent a blatant abuse of human rights under the eyes of the international community, such that it sets a precedent in taking effective action and makes authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world think twice before laying even a finger on the fundamental democratic rights of the nation's citizens.

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