Is China committing genocide while the world is distracted by the global pandemic?

( JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

If you discovered that a communist dictatorship had confirmed reports showing that over one million citizens of a particular faith and ethnicity were in concentration camps, would you not be concerned? Then if you had evidence that this authoritarian government had economic and philosophical motivations to eliminate the entire ethnic group, wouldn’t you think the international community should start investigating? This was already the reality for the Uighur people in China prior to COVID-19. Now, with the rest of the world concerned with a serious, yet distracting global pandemic, the Coronavirus has become the perfect smokescreen for the Chinese government. The Chinese government has been promoting vast propaganda campaigns, barred foreigners and journalists from entering the country, and finally, and most disturbingly, has reports of overflowing crematoriums in Wuhan. It’s time we start asking some difficult questions. 

“The fascist Chinese government wants to eliminate the Uighur people of Xinjang, the entire population of Xinjang, right in front of the eyes of the world,” a Uighur (pronounced wi-gur) refugee declares in front of the cameras from various international news organizations. He and many other refugees cry to the world while they pray in a mosque in Istanbul, an act for which they could be imprisoned in China.   The communist regime feels that the minority group’s Islamic faith makes them defiant and more likely to disobey the staunchly authoritarian Chinese government. In addition, the Uighur’s strong cultural ties to the province of Xinjang poses a problem for the government that is in the process of building the Chinese Belt and Road initiative, a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure project that is designed to restore Chinese dominance in both economic and international affairs.  Unfortunately, this huge infrastructure project would cut through the Uighur’s indigenous homeland. Thus, the Chinese government has strong philosophical and economic motivations to, “solve the Uighur problem”, by any means necessary.

These allegations would seem overly dramatic were it not for the fact that several independent sources have confirmed that in 2015, China forcibly uprooted over 1,000,000 Uighurs from their homes, and moved them into concentration camps.

A few brave journalists from the international community, including several from the New York Times, were bold enough to investigate what was really happening to the Uighurs.  Through their work, important documents were leaked and the harsh reality of what was really happening to the Uighurs in the concentration camps and prisons was exposed.  What they discovered was that the Uighurs were undergoing severe brutalization, starvation, and torture at the hands of the Chinese regime. The Chinese claim these prisons are voluntary vocational education (or re-education) camps to fight religious extremism. Documents of the alleged “crimes” for which they are being detained include having a beard, having too many children, women wearing veils, being born after 1990, and having relatives living abroad. These alleged crimes solidify that the Uighurs are being targeted for their Islamic faith in a country where religion is outlawed and viewed as a threat to the Communist regime. According to the authoritarian Chinese government, these expressions of their faith and ethnicity have condemned them to a life in forced labor camps where they are stripped of their freedoms, and even more alarmingly, their heritage.  As such, the Uighurs are being forced to assimilate to the Communist Party’s vision of an acceptable Chinese citizen. Even for those who remain outside of the camps, there is no real freedom as they are under constant surveillance by the Communist Party’s guards.

If that wasn’t bad enough, The New York Times has even reported that, “Chinese companies are selling facial recognition systems that they claim can tell when a person is a Uighur,  as well as collecting blood samples from Uighurs and others to build new tools for tracking members of minority groups.”  In some cases, western scientists and companies have provided help with those efforts due to a widespread Chinese operation to infiltrate American universities and steal our taxpayer-funded research and intellectual property.  Many of these stories have gone widely unnoticed, or have been downplayed to the American population as a whole due to political correctness by the mainstream media.

If history is any indication, it would appear that the Uighur people are in a precarious situation.   The stages of a genocide are sadly predictable. According to the US State Department, the 10 stages are classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, execution, and denial. The Chinese government reached the persecution stage when they forced a large percentage of the ethnic population of Uighur people into concentration camps. And now the execution phase might be taking place without ANY foreign interference. 

The world has obviously seen this pattern before throughout history. 

The most obvious example of this was during World War II when fascist dictator, Adolph Hitler, implemented his “Final Solution” to eradicate ethnic and religious Jews during the Holocaust. However, the Holocaust was not a sudden horrible act, but rather a chain of events that made Hitler’s ultimate “Final Solution” far too predictable. Each Jew was given a gold “Star of David” badge that they were required to wear on their chest, signifying their Jewish identity. Once the Nazis completed their identification pogrom, they then forcibly removed millions of Jews from their homes and into overcrowded, Jewish-only neighborhoods, called ghettos. The ghettos and gold stars allowed the Nazis to intensely supervise the Jewish residents ensuring that they could not escape before the next stage of the “Final Solution”— forcing the Jews from the ghettos into labor camps. In these concentration camps, they were identified by only a number, forced to work, treated as lab rats for torturous eugenics experiments, and ultimately met their deaths in the notorious gas chambers. It was not until America got involved in WWII that the Holocaust finally came to an end, but not until an estimated 6,000,000 Jews had been executed with millions more displaced. 

In the end, genocide causes destruction at multiple levels.  At one level, it leads to the extermination of its intended victims.  As destructive, however, is the loss of the heritage, ethnicity, and religion of its targeted victims.  In 1908, the Young Turks party came to power over the Ottoman Empire and replaced the monarchy that had been in place for centuries with a constitutional multi-party democracy.  By 1915, this new ruling government began to oppress Christian minorities, including the largest of these which was the Armenians.  In an attempt to quell sporadic uprisings and rebellions among these Christian minorities, and to “purify” the country ethnically, the Young Turks, led by Talaat Pasha, forced Christian Armenians, living in their historical homelands in the eastern provinces of what is now Turkey, to leave their homes.  As is typical with genocides, the first targets were intellectuals and politicians. This was followed by targeting the broader Armenian populations. According to the documentary film, Orphans of the Genocide, in addition to ruthlessly slaughtering 1.5 million Armenian women and children, the Ottoman Turks forced millions more Armenians to convert to Islam and adopt a Turkish last name. The goal of these forced conversions was to ensure that even if some Armenians did manage to survive the genocide, their religion, ethnicity, and heritage would be eradicated and forgotten in the annals of history. Unlike the Germans who were forced by the United Nations to pay reparations for the Holocaust, the Turkish government and many Turkish people, in accordance with the final stage of a genocide, have and continue, even to this day, to deny the Armenian genocide. Instead, they claim that the deaths were simply a casualty of World War I and that the number of deaths are inflated. 

It seems inevitable that they will try to take the ultimate step in eradicating the Uighurs. If you question whether the Chinese government is capable of committing mass cleansing, take a moment to remember Mao Zedong, the communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. During his reign as dictator from 1943-1976, his policies like the Great Leap Forward killed an estimated 40 to 80 million Chinese, beginning with intellectuals and dissenters. Mao is still a revered figure in China and a symbol of the Chinese Communist Party, while his detractors and anyone who speaks out demonstrating the Chinese government’s willingness to commit great atrocities against him are imprisoned Fortunately for the Chinese government, the coronavirus pandemic is providing the perfect cover for them to do just that and have the ability to assign responsibility for the deaths of thousands, if not millions of Uighurs, to COVID-19.  

It is important to compare the current situation in China to genocides of the past to help us understand the political maneuvering that is taking place in Beijing.  

The tragedies that befell the Jews and the Armenians is most certainly what will happen to the Uighurs without intervention and international attention. It is easy to imagine a world where millions of Uighurs disappear and the Chinese government never acknowledges that they have intentionally eradicated an entire race of people.  If questioned on what may have happened to the Uighurs, they will simply attach responsibility for their disappearance to COVID-19.  And once again, a genocide will be denied, just like the Turkish government is doing more than one hundred years after the Armenian Genocide. In an alternate reality where we intervene and hold their regime accountable, just maybe China would be forced to take responsibility for their actions like we’ve seen in Germany after the Holocaust.

Genocides are not sporadic acts of violence, they are effectively planned to achieve the goal of eradicating a particular religious or ethnic group, and any memory of their existence, off the face of the planet.

The Communist Chinese government has extensively planned operations for their solution to their “Uighur problem”. During every genocide, one of the first groups to be imprisoned by the government are the intellectuals, scientists, and politicians.  They are targeted first because they have the visibility, respect, and skills to potentially incite uprisings against an oppressive government.  In an attempt to ensure that this would not happen with the Uighurs, the Chinese government began to imprison Uighur political and religious leaders in 2014. The following year, the Communist Party began their forced migrations of Uighurs from their homes to labor camps where they are forced to work in factories for incredibly low wages, even by Chinese standards. While the Chinese tell their citizens through propaganda that they are improving the lives of Uighurs by moving them out of rural towns, re-educating them, and employing them in factories, many Uighur men state that they are currently making merely one-third of what they were previously in their home towns and villages.  Only now, they are separated from their families and are forced to wear prison-style jumpsuits, are given just one small meal per day, and identified only by a number. Much of what is known about the camps is from locals’ cell phone footage, leaked documents, and anecdotal evidence from refugees. For many Americans and Europeans, these are the same human rights violations that our parents and grandparents fought against and so often gave their lives to prevent during WWII.  Unfortunately, they are now being repeated in 2020.

Considering all of the documented atrocities over the past few years, ask yourself this question, “How is this going to end for the Uighurs?  Do you honestly think the Communist Chinese government is going to just let them go home alive?”

New evidence indicates that the crowded concentration camps may be the final resting place for the Uighurs. In shocking recent satellite images, large numbers of crematoriums began to appear beginning in 2018, a full two years before the novel COVID-19 emerged in China. The construction and emergence of these crematoriums led to mass protests in China as its citizens, having no faith in their government, believed they were not building these out of necessity but rather for nefarious purposes. Fast forward two years, and we are now in the midst of a pandemic that began in China.  According to the Chinese National Health Commission, the bodies of all victims who have died from the deadly airborne virus are to be burned rather than buried. The Chinese government reports that only 3,341 patients have died from COVID-19; a number that is widely considered extremely underreported.   This has brought criticism from the international community. By comparison the United States, a nation of 300 million people, is reporting over 45,000 deaths (as of 4/22/2020), whereas China is only reporting about 4,600 deaths, 1/10 as many deaths as reported in the US, despite the virus originating in China, a country of 1.3 billion people.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) has reported that the death toll in China from COVID-19 is unsurprisingly, significantly higher than the numbers reported, according to residents of Wuhan, the city in which the virus originated.   Additionally, insiders working at the crematoriums have confirmed that the number of bodies being burned is much higher than reports have shown.

 “It can’t be right … because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?” a man surnamed Zhang told RFA. In addition to Zhang, other insiders have stated that the crematoriums are running 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. 

Based upon this information, and given the capacity of one crematorium operating around the clock, we would estimate that over 2,000 bodies are being burned each day in each of the seven crematoriums in Wuhan, as well as those in other provinces.  This would imply that approximately 14,000 bodies are being cremated each day in Wuhan alone.   As you can see, it would not take long for the number of bodies cremated to reach into the tens of thousands.  And yet, China is only reporting that 4,600 Chinese have died from COVID-19.   For reference, according to calculations by German authorities in 1943, Auschwitz crematoriums could burn 1440 corpses every 24 hours, which would be close to the current estimated rate in Wuhan in 2020.

As tens of thousands of people all over China are dying and being suspiciously cremated due to COVID-19, the Chinese government could just as easily incinerate the corpses of as many Uighurs as possible and then claim the deaths were due to the coronavirus with the world being none the wiser. If this seems a bit of a stretch, remember these undisputed facts:

  1. Over one million Uighurs have been imprisoned in concentration camps and the Chinese government has used propaganda to justify their actions
  2. The international community has concluded the novel coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan, either at or very near a biological weapons research laboratory.
  3. The Chinese have lied about nearly every statistic regarding the coronavirus for months and even hid the virus from the international community. The World Health Organization has covered for China’s lies as a reliable source of information and has since been exposed for the corrupt organization it is.
  4. The Chinese have barred foreign nationals from entering the country and have banned all journalists from investigating anything related to coronavirus or from contacting Uighurs.
  5. The Chinese citizens were already suspicious of their government for building crematoriums prior to the pandemic, and began protesting their construction.
  6. There are firsthand accounts of crematoriums burning bodies “around the clock”.

Now ask yourself if we should at least be asking hard questions to the Chinese authorities regarding their ongoing genocide? Even if you are not fully convinced that the Chinese government is committing ethnic cleansing, at the very least they have millions of Muslim minority Uighurs locked away in concentration camps while simultaneously being at the epicenter of a global pandemic.  These conditions are, at the very least, worth investigating.  This is independent of exploring any “conspiracy theories” as to the origins and spread of COVID19.  The Uighurs deserve to know that even with COVID-19 being public enemy number one, the world has not forgotten about their plight and their cultural genocide at the hands of the Chinese government.   

Genocide does not just happen spontaneously; it develops over time in a predictable pattern of behavior while the world watches. In the end, the perpetrating party denies the act and the world acts shocked after failing to intervene.  Then the next hate-filled party that wants to eradicate an entire ethnic or religious group realizes that they can do so without fear of retribution from the international community.  Crematoriums are running nonstop and under the cover of COVID-19 the world is watching with little reaction. Right now, genocide is not beginning but seems to be reaching its inevitable, grisly conclusion. What message will we send to the Chinese government, to the Uighurs, and to the next perpetrators and their victims?

We must act, and act now.

The United States should lead an international coalition forcing China to allow independent inspectors to view the Uighur concentration camps, prisons, and the province of Xinjang which is under military control and supervision. We must ensure that the Uighurs do not fall victim to a quiet genocide as the world is focused on COVID-19.  Let this serve as a call to our national leaders to investigate not only the origins of the novel coronavirus, but the potentially devastating actions of the Communist Party of China and their ongoing genocide of the Uighur people. 

As Americans, we are not only citizens of the United States, but also members of the international community and of the human race.  As such, we must demand answers and transparency. Yet somehow many new sources, politicians, and celebrities continue to defend the Chinese regime and vilify right-leaning publications for what they believe is unwarranted criticism. Even if after reading this you still feel as though it is not our job to intervene in a conflict across the world, let us take a moment to stop and remember that the last time one million ethnic and religious minorities were in forced labor camps, 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. Americans are searching for a reason for their suffering and a unified message to rally behind as international blame rightfully shifts towards China. Right here, right now we potentially have the opportunity to stop the next Holocaust from happening. Raise your voices, reach out to your leaders, and petition our leaders to demand an investigation. With social media our globe is smaller than you think.  Make your voice heard and make a difference that will change the course of human history.


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Jake Hoffman & Michelle Sassouni
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