Human Rights Abuses In Xinjiang Re-education Camp

By Flora Oh

Published Date: 2020 / 11 / 30


Since early 2014, as part of the Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism, the Chinese government has been developing “reeducation camps” in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. Human rights groups report that these detention facilities hold up to a million Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups. Discrimination towards these minority groups broadened and intensified after the “Regulations on De-extremification” were adopted in March 2017, followed by further local legislation giving the Xinjiang government the legal authority to take action against any behavior that it regards as “extremist.”

China maintains that these measures are necessary to counter terrorism and ensure social stability. However, instead of bringing stability and lasting peace, the regulations are bringing China worldwide condemnation. Leaked documents and firsthand accounts show that the “re-education camps” resemble life in prison. The camps are equipped with wire fences, watchtowers, and armed police. Interviews with former detainees also reveal the lack of humanity in the camps. They report that inmates are electrocuted, forcefully administered unknown medication, and required to study communist ideology.

Despite widespread concern about human rights abuses and torture, the international response has been mixed. The United States and its allies have Re-education Camps in China's Xinjiang Province two issued condemnations and called for the United Nations (UN) to intervene, while Chinese-allied countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia have defended the camps, claiming that China has the right to carry out anti-terrorism work in the name of national security.

China initially denied the existence of the detention facilities, but in the face of mounting international pressure, China instead began to describe the camps as “education training centers”. Chinese authorities have stressed that camp’s purpose is not only to stamp out extremism but also to provide people new vocational skills. Although the issue continues to make world news headlines, little has been done regarding the camps. The international community must work together towards a solution that respects and protects the cultural rights of Uighurs and all religious and ethnic minorities in China while also respecting China’s sovereignty.

Works Cited
Diplomat, Ruth Ingram for The. “Confessions of a Xinjiang Camp Teacher.” – The Diplomat, For The Diplomat, 3 Oct. 2020,

Graham-Harrison, Emma. “China Has Built 380 Internment Camps in Xinjiang, Study Finds.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 24 Sept. 2020,

“Xinjiang: China Defends 'Education' Camps.” BBC News, BBC, 17 Sept. 2020,

“Xinjiang: Large Numbers of New Detention Camps Uncovered in Report.” BBC News, BBC, 24 Sept. 2020,

“More Evidence of China's Horrific Abuses in Xinjiang.” Human Rights Watch, 28 Oct. 2020,

Photo Citation:

“China Uighurs: Xinjiang Legalises 'Re-Education' Camps.” BBC News, BBC, 10 Oct. 2018, ?ocid=socialflow_twitter.

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