China Allegedly Locked Kazakh Muslim Students In A Freezer Because They Don't Eat Pork

Meanwhile, most of the 450 Kazakh students in Xinjiang who had protested against the government order to eat pork have been missing for a week.

Cover image via Storyblocks

Radio Free Asia (RFA), an independent US-based news site, reported on the detention of 450 Kazakh Muslim students by Chinese authorities earlier this week

Image via RFA

RFA is funded through an annual grant from the United States Agency for Global Media, an independent US agency. The site has measures in place to prevent interference in reporting from the US government.

According to RFA, the 450 Kazakh Muslim students in Habahe and Burqin of Xinjiang, China, had protested against a government order to consume pork last week.

However, most of them have since been taken away by authorities, and RFA reported that the local education ministry has not revealed the whereabouts of the children.

"Over 400 Kazakh students have disappeared (for a week), even their parents don't know where they are. (Reports say) they were detained because they didn't want to eat pork, which apparently violates a Chinese law," Serikjan Bilash, a Kazakh rights activist, told RFA yesterday, 18 December.

Family members of detainees protested at the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan on 16 December, demanding the release of their loved ones.

Image via RFA

A Muslim resident told RFA that students from the protest were seen being locked up in a meat freezer following their detention

"In Burqin (county), there's a meat freezer. The students who were protesting in Habahe (county) are now in that freezer filled with pork carcasses," the resident was quoted as saying by RFA on 16 December. 

"The Habahe county is now locked down by the police and the military. People have been denied entry (into Habahe) for days," the resident added.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Storyblocks

Meanwhile, another resident said that Muslims living in Xinjiang barely have any options in the situation.

"To Xinjiang Muslim residents, it's either we fight to death, or we get tortured and brainwashed by the authorities. Either way, we die," the resident said, according to RFA. 

The report comes amid claims that nearly a million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities have been locked up in Xinjiang's internment camps

A satellite image of a 're-education' camp in Xinjiang.

Image via Daily Mail

Earlier this week, The Independent reported Amnesty International as saying that mass 're-education' camps are being used to hold minorities, and they are operating like "wartime concentration camps". 

An Associated Press report today also revealed that Muslims in these camps are forced to give up their native language and religion, while being put through political indoctrination. They are also made to work in manufacturing and food industries as part of a 'vocational training' to "solve terrorism", according to the Chinese government.

CCTV image of 'trainees' working at a garment factory.

Image via Associated Press

"I don't dare to imagine what would have happened to me if I didn't come here... The (Communist) party and government found me in time and saved me. They gave me a chance to reinvent myself," an Uighur student in a Xinjiang factory said, according to Associated Press.

While Muslim residents in Xinjiang face persecution from the government, others outside the region, such as the Hui Muslims are excluded from the repression

For instance, while China outlaw religious education for children, Hui Muslim children are allowed to attend mosques and study with an imam. They are also allowed to fast during Ramadan, unlike the situation in Xinjiang.

A 2004 report by the US State Department also revealed that Muslims in different parts of China are treated differently by the Chinese government in terms of religious freedom.

In Xinjiang, the government justifies such treatment of its Muslims as an "effort to wipe out homegrown terrorists".

Nonetheless, the ruling Communist Party insists that the Xinjiang camps are providing job training to the detainees "for their own good"

New York Times reported on 16 December that the government claims detainees are being put on production lines "for their own good", as it is an escape from poverty and the "temptations of radical Islam". 

The Chinese government seems determined to keep the camps going, defying calls from the United Nations, the United States, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and more.

Check out this video on the detention of Xinjiang Muslims in China:

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