Analysis, Asia, Featured

China’s Stolen Generation of Uyghur Children

The Chinese regime continues to place the children of Uyghur [Uighur] Muslims who have been detained in its internment ‘concentration’ camps or who are in exile due to persecution by the state, into dozens of state-run orphanages across East Turkestan. There are reportedly 500 children of detained Uyghurs in a “closed” school in the Kashgar prefecture alone, where they are not allowed to have any contact with the outside world. In these orphanages, these Muslim children are being indoctrinated with communist culture in order that they reject their Islamic beliefs, adopt the socialist doctrine and become loyal subjects of the state. A review of procurement notices in East Turkestan by the Associated Press, found that since the start of 2017, the Chinese government has budgeted more than $30 million to build or expand at least 45 orphanages with enough beds to house around 5000 children. According to The Independent paper, in July and August last year, the regime invited bids for construction of centres in several counties in the province. One notice called for an orphanage in Moyu county with four-story dormitories which would be bigger in size than 3 football pitches.


This forced separation of Uyghur children from their parents and families is part of Beijing’s crusade to systematically sever the attachment of young Muslims to their Deen and to re-shape their identity – root and branch – to create an entire generation of Uyghurs who are obedient pawns of the Communist Party and enemies of Islam. Alongside imprisoning Uyghur children in these state-run orphanages, the Chinese regime has also built thousands of ‘bilingual’ kindergartens for this cultural indoctrination of Muslim children. 4,300 of these kindergartens were constructed or renovated in 2017 according to the government. In these institutions, children are taught to ‘love the Motherland’ and that the religion of their parents is abnormal and radical and therefore needs to be eradicated. It is reported that officials often visit these kindergartens and ask the students if their parents read Qur’anic verses at home or participate in other religious activities – effectively forcing children to spy on their own parents and families. Additionally, the regime has established thousands of bilingual schools; many of which are boarding schools which Uyghur children are forced to attend, limiting the time that they spend with their families, and transferring control over their upbringing from their Muslim families to the atheist state, which is forcing them to live like non-Muslim Han Chinese. The Independent reported that, “A government notice posted in February 2018 in Kashgar states that children in the fourth grade and above with parents in detention must be sent to boarding school immediately – even if one parent is still at home. Students must be instilled with socialist values, the notice said, and be taught to “be grateful for education and love and repay the motherland”, and avoid the “75 types of behaviour that show religious extremism”. Such behaviour ranges from calling for “holy war” to growing beards and quitting smoking and drinking for religious reasons, the government says.” Many Uyghurs fear that these measures are wiping out their Islamic culture and identity, one child at a time. It resembles the ‘Stolen Generations’ of Aboriginal children who were forcibly separated from their families by successive Australian governments in the 1900’s and placed into state-run institutions to erase the indigenous identity.

There has been outrage and demonstrations by ordinary people across the world against China’s ethnic cleansing, mass detention and forced indoctrination of the Uyghur Muslims of East Turkestan….but which government or institution truly hears their cries and moves to action to stop this horrendous crime??!! Can we really expect anything from bodies such as the UN other than its familiar scripted mantra of condemnatory statements that do nothing to end this tragedy? It is a tool that works only for the interests of the major powers in its Security Council, of which China is one. Its legacy has been of utter failure in protecting the lives of innocent Muslims – whether in Syria, the Blessed Land – Palestine, Kashmir, Myanmar, Central Africa or elsewhere. Nor do we expect anything from Western governments or the current regimes of the Muslim world who are terrified of jeopardising their economic interests with China, and who have repeatedly demonstrated their capitalist philosophy – that acquiring financial gain will always override ending human suffering and oppression.

There is a well-known English saying that states, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Surely, as Muslims, we need to recognise that placing our hopes in the redundant UN, self-serving Western governments or the indifferent non-Islamic regimes of the Muslim world to protect our brothers and sisters of East Turkestan will only lead to failure and continuation of their suffering. Liberating the Uyghur Muslims from the clutches of the oppressive Chinese regime requires a state which does not shape its actions on economic gains but upon the Laws and Commands of Allah (swt) alone, which includes His (swt)’s Order to protect the Believers, no matter the financial cost. It requires a state that truly represents and defends the interests of Islam and the Muslims, rather than bodies and governments that pay mere lip service to ending human suffering. This state is the Khilafah Rashidah (righteous Caliphate) based upon the method of the Prophethood, which the Messenger ﷺ described as the shield and guardian of the Ummah and Deen. We saw for example how under this Islamic leadership, the 8th century Umayyad Khalifah, Al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik, mobilised a strong army, thousands strong, under the leadership of the courageous general Muhammad ibn Qasim, to fight the Hindu king – Raja Dahir in Sindh, India, when he took some Muslim women and children prisoner. The Muslim soldiers faced an army several times their size but defeated them, saving the Muslim women and children from their captors and liberating the whole of Sindh from the despotic Hindu rule. This action was not undertaken for any financial gain, but in response to the Command of Allah (swt) to save the Muslims from oppression. So if we truly want an end to the suffering of our Ummah in East Turkestan and in lands across the world, then we must place our full attention and efforts on the urgent re-establishment of the Khilafah Rashidah.


Dr. Nazreen Nawaz

Director of the Women’s Section in The Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir