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Abstract

“But I am a member of the oppressors.” As a Han Chinese person living outside the Great Firewall – therefore with access to information on the situation in Xinjiang – I kept on thinking to myself during the discussion of “How to Engage With the Oppressor” that I, in fact, have been complicit in what increasingly looks like a cultural genocide.

By the end of 2018, the Chinese government had detained an estimated 800,000 to possible two million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in Xinjiang. The party-state has used the terms “vocational training centers,” and, more recently, “boarding schools” to describe internment camps with mass forced labor. There is little access for almost anyone who is not an employee of the state to these camps. But according to the few escapees or former employees, detainees are coerced to use Chinese only and repeatedly recite party-state propaganda; some of Muslim faith have been forced to drink alcohol or eat pork.

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