A human rights report released this week has warned the international community against alleged false information released by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples.
“Politicians and international media must not fall into the trap of recycling the [Chinese Communist Party’s] brazen and cynical disinformation and propaganda,” said Omer Kanat of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP).
The organization released a report this week analyzing the Chinese government’s alleged attempts “to craft and promote a narrative responding” to respond to international criticism of the reported large-scale arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples.
Titled “The Happiest Muslims in the World”: Disinformation, Propaganda, and the Uyghur Crisis,” the report traces the evolution of the Chinese government’s narrative “from secrecy and denial to whitewashing and justification.”
“The CCP is relentless in its efforts to cover up and justify its human rights crimes against Uyghurs,” said Kanat, UHRP executive director.
The Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims from the Central Asian region, most of whom live in China’s Xinjiang region, in the country’s north-west.
In recent years, China’s President Xi Jinping has overseen a hard-line approach toward Muslim minorities living in Xinjiang, especially the Uyghurs.
Human rights reports said Muslim minorities are being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned.
It is estimated that about one million Uyghurs have been detained in what the Chinese government calls “vocational training centers.”
Rights activists claimed that a growing evidence of human rights violations inside the centers as well as reports of deaths in custody and forced labor.
At first, the Chinese government denied the existence of the “mass detention camps”, but later claimed that the camps were part of efforts to educate “extremists” in “vocational training centers.”
The government later claimed that detainees had “graduated,” even as human rights groups reported what they described as a vast scheme of factory forced labor.
Chinese officials claimed that criticisms of China’s policies are a foreign conspiracy, going so far as to say that “the happiest Muslims in the world live in Xinjiang.”
Chinese state media videos featuring statements by family members of Uyghurs amount to a type of “hostage propaganda,” said the UHRP in a statement.
Residents of the Uyghur region are filmed declaring that they have not been mistreated in any way, and denouncing their overseas relatives for spreading “lies.”
UHRP said the “propaganda videos” added to the trauma that Uyghurs overseas are already suffering due to relatives reportedly being disappeared into camps or given long prison sentences.
“Framing the mass detention of Uyghurs as a potential model for other countries’ counter-terrorism campaigns has dangerous implications for human rights worldwide,” read the UHRP report.
In recent years, Chinese authorities has recast the Uyghur ethnic group as a terrorist collective, allowing Beijing to justify its transformation of Xinjiang into a surveillance state.
Beijing’s surveillance includes face and voice recognition, iris scanners, DNA sampling and 3D identification imagery of Uyghurs.