Modern Holocaust


Lulit Abdissa

In May of 1939, FDR famously turned away the SS Louis, the escape boat filled with Jews fleeing Hitler in Europe. Today, this ‘modern holocaust’ is plaguing the world yet again with evil, only this time in China. The Holocaust was a genocide that occured during World War II where Nazi Germany, aided by neighboring countries, systematically killed six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. This occured over the span of just 4 years. Similar occurrences are now plaguing China. Thousands of Chinese Muslims are in internment camps as “factory workers,” and hundreds are being forced, on film, to repeatedly denounce their faith. This rewriting of history is one that should not go unnoticed; this time America must act.

China’s Communist Party has been spewing propaganda, claiming that camps in the Xinjiang region is providing job training and putting detainees on production lines for their own good, offering an escape from poverty and the temptations of joining radical Islamist groups. This is not the case. A system of forced labor is emerging from the camps.They seek to control and demonize a Muslim ethnic minority population of over than 12 million — similar to what occurred in the mid-1900s in Europe.

Forced labor, renunciations and separation. This is the reality that the enslaved face. Citizens are pleading to be reunited with their family members, many of whom they haven’t seen for nearly a year.

China defied a global outcry against the roundup and internment of Muslims in this region. In fact, America has yet to place an embargo on goods coming from China or take any form of lasting action despite this having gone on for over 10 months. There has been no real action by the United Nations, only a plea by the UN Human Rights officials to intervene.

On top of this, Muslims entering China as tourists or on business are in extreme danger. Last week, a Turkish foreigner had went to China on a business trip and found himself strapped to a chair, bounded by his hands and feet in an underground interrogation room in city of Ghulja. He was eventually released after negotiations with Turkish diplomats in China. However, he was rebuked and dehumanized during his time there.

China is not alone in their beliefs that Muslim minorities should be stripped of their rights. Recently, China just thanked Kazakhstan for support on their Muslim crackdown, deeming Muslim minority groups such as Uyghurs, Kazakhs amongst others in Xinjiang, a “global threat.” However, the issue is not confined to Asia’s border. Other countries in western Europe are aiding and embedding this conflict as well. Their complacency speaks volumes and only furthers the agenda of those who seek to push out a false narrative that Muslims are inherently evil and in need of regulation.

“As a Muslim, this issue hits especially close to home.” says junior Salma Durra from the Pali Human Rights Council. “To think that in a different world, that could have been me, is a gut-wrenching feeling. Now more than ever, it’s time to really start applying the idea that ‘never again,’ we should allow for such human rights violations to occur.”

Upon looking back at history and seeing what has occurred in the past, it’s imperative to draw similarities to the events occurring today. Durra is correct; we should apply the mentality that history can repeat itself, but we shouldn’t allow it to.

First, China claims that these camps are vocational schools meant to learn trades, and then they say that these assembly lines are meant to prevent Muslims from the temptations of joining radical groups. They gain an ally in a neighboring country and others begin to follow. The UN fails to act and the US turns a blind eye despite its lauding of freedom and liberty. Now, it’s just a matter of looking to history, and you’ll know what will happen next. Muslims have been demonized for nearly a decade now and with ostracization and misinformation; people allow their fear of outsiders to further taint history.

It is not lost to the masses that the world is a cruel place. However, this has already happened time and time again. In Rwanda, in Armenia, in Cambodia and Darfur. The indicators are there. To compare what is happening in China to the likes of these horrors is not radical because the last 10 months have mirrored them perfectly.  

Human rights should not be considered a political issue, but oftentimes nations make it so, causing more division. In the past few years, Americans have watched as human rights were violated and the government has taken political positions as oppose to humanitarian ones.

“In conflicts like this, it’s easy to forget the humanitarian side of things,” Durra commented. “People are dying. People are being put in concentration camps, and are dying.” Within the United States itself, issues that should not be a partisan problem, such as the military or the rights of refugees on American soil, have become so polarized that productive conversations cannot occur and political discourse may not be fostered.

I am not advocating US interventionism; the US is not the world’s police and there would be detrimental ramifications to that. I am not advocating for any controversial measures to be taken abroad as well. However, America has great power when it comes to what we do. By setting up sanctions, renouncing their actions on a global scale and more, change would occur.

Sophomore Sarah Kageyama from the Asian Student Union agrees as well. “I think that it’s horrible that this is happening right now,” Kageyama said. “But, I’m not really sure what the U.S. can do. Intervening in other countries during this nuclear age doesn’t seem like the best idea.”

Instead, Kageyama suggests an alternative — a way that the U.S. government could shelter these Uighur Muslims or send some sort of support or aide towards these camps.

Ultimately, America has a moral obligation to do something. As a country founded on the principles of democracy, individual freedom and protection of the minorities, it is imperative that we uphold these ideals and not idly stand by and watch as these atrocities occur.

“America should not only push against and condemn these actions in the UN on an international level, but I believe that the US should consider putting economic sanctions on China,” Durra stated. “As I said, people are dying, and we should take serious measures to end that. The US turned a blind eye to the Holocaust while it happened, [and] that can never happen again.”

As of April 3rd, U.S. senators have been calling for Trump to impose these sanctions whilst Chinese diplomats are meeting to discuss trade deals. Lawmakers in Congress are rallying around the Chinese minorities and pressing Trump to take action. However, Trump’s administration has yet to acknowledge the horrors going on in China.

Something needs to happen. America holds great power on the global scale and they have the ability to affect international change. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”