This is a great article which contributes a lot to the description of the ongoing assault on the indigenous peoples of Xinjiang.
But the NYT framing also continues a weird trend with headlines telling us this is about “Muslims” and “religion” even though this is only one part of it, and the primary goal clearly is the destruction of the cultures and peoples of the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and the other minority peoples, as such.
Why this framing? One possible explanation could be that the editors think that Uyghur, Kazakh, and the other targeted peoples have “too difficult names” for their readers to handle. Or, that the NYT willy-nilly is aligning itself with the current administration officials who have often spoken up, admirably so, for the people of Xinjiang, but often in terms of the freedom of religion (Note: I do think it is indeed very admirable that conservative evangelical Republicans do speak up for oppressed Muslims, and it is of course true, to say that this is an assault on the freedom of religion).
But I think the real reason may lay elsewhere. While the genocide is also intended to smother the freedom of religion, it is primarily to smother these peoples as such, to undo their presence.
What I imagine is that for Americans (and equally for many Chinese people) this is a concept difficult to grasp. Both the US and China has hundreds of millions of people, and while everything in the world comes to an end, their identity as a nation surely won’t vanish soon — so it’s hard to imagine that it could.
But the Uyghurs are only about 12 million, and the determined effort of the Chinese regime as documented in part by this article (and many other reports; see: https://urldefense.com/v3/https://uhrp.org/featured-articles/chinas-re-education-concentration-camps-xinjiang;!!KGKeukY!gj5wBM0I7Q8AoFxNpAg5aa8gkmKlS_7kiJaNjYUmQ5qfPpUYO3jjf6VysOeXKME$ ), could well erase them, even without killing them. Multiple testimonies already speak of empty cities.
We may compare to the Indian schools of the American genocides against the Indians under the banners of “Kill the Indian, save the man” and “manifest destiny” (so much admired by Hitler), but the Chinese regime now has much more effective weapons. They are mounting an omnipresent surveillance regime with nowhere to hide, and can outlaw local language and culture even inside the homes of native people, for whom there is no privacy, and no defense.
The mass internment camps are one part of this, implementing a rapid identity conversion in which the will to resist and maintain your identity is broken. It coincides with a society-wide campaign of state terror enforcing assimilation, and as this NYT article tells us more about, the children are swept up and separated away, to finish the job of de-culturation, in what clearly is an intentional long-term-plan genocide.
I think this goal is hard to fathom for the NYT editors, for whom it will seem easier to say it is about Muslims — even as so many Uyghur activists abroad so frequently complain about this, and try to tell us, “everything they do is designed to destroy our people.”
Magnus Fiskesjö <firstname.lastname@example.org>