Featured Article: “5 Takeaways From the Leaked Files on China’s Mass Detention of Muslims”
In November 2019, The Times published leaked documents that expose details of China’s mass detention of Muslims in the Xinjiang region. In this lesson, you will learn about the significance of the information in those documents. Then you will be asked to reflect on the information contained in them and take action in response to the situation in Xinjiang.
Since 2014, the Chinese government has employed sophisticated surveillance technology in the Xinjiang region, primarily to monitor China’s Uighur ethnic minority. China has also created internment camps where it has detained one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the region.
Watch the Times video Op-Ed above, which features the voices and stories of young people whose parents have been imprisoned in the camps. After watching, think about these questions:
Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:
1. According to the writer, Austin Ramzy, what is significant about the information in the documents?
2. What was the difference in how the Chinese government talked publicly about the internment camps versus how the camps were referred to in the leaked government documents?
3. What is the connection between the words of President Xi Jinping and the creation of the internment camps? Why did he refer to the “war on terror” in the United States?
4. How are Mr. Xi’s policies in Xinjiang different from those of his predecessor, Hu Jintao? According to Mr. Xi, why has he taken a different approach?
5. How did Chen Quanguo, a “zealous” new party boss for the region of Xinjiang, respond to officials who pushed back against the mass roundups he ordered?
6. How did the position and actions of a county leader, Wang Yongzhi, change over time?
After reading the article, take some time to reflect and respond to these questions either in writing or in a class discussion:
In your own words, what was significant about the information in the leaked documents?
What is your emotional response to reading about the situation in Xinjiang?
If you were to explain what is happening to someone who has never heard about the internment camps, what would be the three most important things for them to understand?
What action do you think can be taken by young people, schools and local governments?
In the Op-Ed video from the warm-up, Akeda Pulati, Kamalturk Yalqun and Adili Yilihamu call on concerned Times readers to take action through the Uyghur Human Rights Project. If you have the time, transform your above responses into a letter and send it to one of your elected officials or another individual or organization from this list created by the Uyghur Human Rights Project.