A 137-page document detailing China’s systematic repression of Uyghur and other minority Muslims in western Xinjiang province listed that the top reason for sending Muslims to concentration camps in one county as “having too many babies,” Deutsche Welle revealed on Monday.
Deutsche Welle, in cooperation with other media outlets, translated the leaked government documents, which it noted added clarity in how the Chinese communist regime chooses who to institutionalize in the over 1,000 concentration camps built to torture, enslave, rape, and kill Muslim minorities. Reports citing eyewitnesses and document leaks have for years exposed a system that punishes Chinese citizens in Xinjiang for wearing beards, refusing to eat pork, keeping fasting hours during Ramadan, or wearing hijabs. In 2017, China also published a list of banned names for children in Xinjiang, most of them traditional Islamic names common among Uyghurs.
The Deutsche Welle documents listed individuals in Xinjiang’s Karakax County, many of them in concentration camps, but others simply being monitored incessantly through advanced surveillance technology and espionage via private messaging services and social media. The document lists contact with people in Muslim-majority countries, applying for a passport, and other legal activities as red flags in the eyes of the Communist Party that could result in imprisonment in a concentration camp.
“However, the top cause for arrest of Uighurs from Karakax County was violating China’s official birth control policy by having too many babies,” Deutsche Welle reported.
The Communist Party bans all people from having more than two children, an expansion of the long-time one-child policy that has triggered a population crisis in the country. In rural areas, Beijing has exempt religious and ethnic minorities from that limit for years; Uyghurs are allowed three children if they live outside of urban centers. The one-child policy exemptions have resulted in Chinese minorities being among the few not currently in danger of seeing population crashes that could devastate the economy in the next two generations.
Adding to mounting evidence that the concentration camps are part of a broader genocide campaign against Uyghur Muslims, the Karakax County documents show Chinese officials punishing Uyghurs for having large families. Most of those locked into concentration camps, the documents indicate, are young men, both for allegedly violating birth laws and for crimes like being “untrustworthy.”
“This has major implications for demographics and the birth rate,” Rian Thum, a University of Nottingham Uyghur policy expert, said. “If you take a portion — or even the entirety — of a village’s youth, you basically put a pause” on population growth.
Survivors of the concentration camps and human rights groups have accused China of a genocide campaign against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the west of the country. In addition to making the building of families more difficult, Chinese officials have razed dozens of Muslim cemeteries, many of them with hundreds of years of family history. Chinese officials have claimed that destroying ancient historical sites like cemeteries is necessary to make Uyghurs more “civilized.”