What happens to the children of parents who are being held in China’s vast internment camps? A new report accuses the Chinese government of forced family separations and breaking the cultural roots of children from the Uighurs' ethnic minority group.
Children of parents detained in China’s internment camps are being separated on a large scale and “indoctrinated” in high-security facilities likened to adult detention centres, in what amounts to “cultural genocide”, a new research report reveals.
More than a million Chinese Uighur Muslims are believed to be held in internment camps and forced to undergo what human rights groups have labelled ‘political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation’.
But now, details have emerged as to what’s happened to children of those being held in detention.
According to German researcher Adrian Zenz, an expert on China's policies in Xinjiang province, in some Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Regions vast numbers of children have been left without both parents, held in high-security boarding facilities and “indoctrinated” .
In just one town, more than 400 children are without parents while they are in detention.
Mr Zenz,a researcher at the European School of Culture and Theology in Korntal, Germany, says the large-scale separation of parents and children amounts to “cultural genocide”.
“China’s state-driven campaign of intergenerational separation in Xinjiang is a clear indication that its long-term goal in Xinjiang is a targeted cultural genocide, designed to completely alter and align the hearts and minds of the next generation with the Communist Party ideology,” the report states.
In one school, separated children were found wearing thin, unwashed clothes in the middle of winter, where temperatures drop to as low as minus 20 degrees. The smell was so bad the “entire classroom stank”, a government teacher reported in December 2018, adding the students were in an “extremely pitiful state”.
With little information emerging out of the internment camp regions, Mr Zenz cited Chinese government documents from both high and low-level counties as well as educational departments to produce his report into what’s happening to children of interned parents.
Some of the facilities where children are being kept have been fitted with high-surrounding walls with anti-climbing barriers such as barbed wire and electric fences. CCTV, alarm systems and security guards are other features of such pre-schools or schools.
“Besides not having watchtowers, the security measures that Xinjiang mandates for every single educational institution, even preschools, would seem to rival those of its internment camps,” Mr Zenz said in his report.
The rapid growth of new schools to accommodate children following China’s ‘reeducation campaign’ showed the Communist party intended to take on the role of the parent, he added.
“By May 2019, the Xinjiang government is literally able to “parent” at least tens of thousands, if not a hundred thousand or more children,” the report reads.
“Even after the state releases parents, children can remain in full-time care or boarding facilities at least during the work week, meaning that the state gets more time to influence the next generation than the parents do.”
Mr Zenz said Xinjiang’s re-education campaign was causing “inter-generational separation on a large scale”.
“With the expansion of sophisticated care and boarding facilities, students can remain separated from parents for entire work weeks and possibly longer. This is almost certainly not coincidental, but a deliberate part of “breaking roots” and changing Turkic minority societies through coercive social re-engineering.”
China maintains it is trying to counter extremism through its ‘reeducation’ programs.
In a Friday editorial in the Global Times, the state-backed publication defended what it described were “governance measures” in Xinjiang saying it has brought a “miraculous change to the region”.
It also attacked western media reporting of the education centres.
“The hyped topics, such as vocational education and training centers, will gradually become monotonous and will increasingly lose their credibility in Western media,” it wrote.