Allegations of 'Muslim oppression' in Xinjiang unreliable

Md Enamul Hassan

Psychologist Tom Stafford has said repetition makes a fact seem more true, regardless of whether it is or not, and it is known as the 'illusion of truth' effect in psychology. Nazi information minister Joseph Goebbels made the effect his propaganda law and said that 'Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth'. The United States (US) and some of its Western allies are seen applying this propaganda law against its opponents around the world for long. As the US-led 'war on terror' has faded away under the changing circumstances, the country has started suffering from pending replacement anxiety about China. 

As a result, the US-led alliance has replaced Islamic terrorism with China as its number one potential threat to its global dominance. The alliance has targeted the Chinese counter-terrorism measures in Xinjiang for defaming China. It was all praise for the Chinese measures when the alliance was fully engaged in the 'war on terror' though. The Western powers are now singing another tune and labeling Xinjiang terrorists as 'freedom fighters'. They have become critics of the Chinese moves to such a point that whenever China arrests terrorists, they falsely label it as 'targeting innocent civilians'. 

Following their governments' line, Many Western media are also spinning yarns about so-called 'Muslim oppression' in Xinjiang. They have long been cooking up stories of concentration camps, forced labor, demolition of mosques, barring Muslims from practicing their religious rituals, sinicization of Islam, mass surveillance, human rights violations, and curbing births of Uyghurs. 

As a journalist, I feel the need for letting the world know the reality about the fake and fabricated stories of 'Muslim oppression' in Xinjiang. In doing so, I have traced the origin of the much-circulated stories of concentration camps and detentions of over one million Muslims, and curbing births of Uyghurs. 

I have found the name of a German researcher, Adrian Zenz, linked to the stories. He is a commonly cited source for the number of detainees and the camps. The Grayzone, an independent news outlet, published some findings on Zenz that he is a senior fellow at the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. It is an anti-communist organization founded by the US government in 1994. 

Researcher Zenz claims there are "over a million" Uyghurs in the camps. He ridiculously bases his claims on a single report from Istiqlal TV, a channel that advances a pro-Xinjiang separatist agenda. This background has easily helped anyone understand that he is sponsored by the US government and that the authenticity of his claim is not beyond all doubt. But Western media have given the claim uncritical coverage. 

Lately, Western media have published another report of birth control in Xinjiang. They have again referred to the same German researcher in their report. In the findings of the research, he, who has never been to Xinjiang, accused the Chinese government of using sterilization, IUDs, and mandatory birth control measures to suppress Uyghur birth rates. 

Many experts are of the view that the research is full of flaws citing different inconsistencies of its data analysis. I have also found some reasons to consider it untrustworthy. Of them, one important reason is that the German researcher has interviewed only eight women in his research. Even they live in the US and are supporters of the Xinjiang separatist movement. The number of interviewees seems to be too few to reach any conclusion based on their opinions about the entire population of Xinjiang. I think, in this case too, Western media have compromised their reputation by giving wide coverage of the findings of the research without raising any question. 

In my eyes, the anatomy of the much-circulated stories of the so-called concentration camps and detentions of over one million Muslims, and curbing births of Uyghurs can help people understand the authenticity of many more fake stories about Xinjiang. But it's not a strange question to ask why Western media disseminate such untrustworthy stories about Xinjiang? 

In reply to this query, I have identified three major reasons-- the rise of China, its deep ties with Muslims around the world, and the geo-political-economic importance of Xinjiang. Because the US seems determined to withhold the rise of the communist nation by any means. For this purpose, the US may want to make around two billion Muslims stand up against China by using the fake and fabricated stories of so-called Muslim oppression in Xinjian. Because if the US can succeed in making Muslims hostile to China, the second-largest economy of the world may lose huge markets of Muslim countries resulting in massive economic losses for it.  

Moreover, since the time immemorial, Xinjiang has geo-strategically and economically been an important region. Because the most well-known route of the historical Silk Road ran through the territory from the east to its northwestern border. The recent discovery of abundant oil and mineral reserves in Xinjiang has made it the largest natural gas-producing region of China. The China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has also added more economic value to Xinjiang. China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a collection of infrastructure projects under the BRI cooperation in Pakistan valued $62 billion as of 2017, has run through Xinjiang. 

The Kazakhstan–China oil pipeline, which allows China to import oil from Central Asia, runs from Kazakhstan to Xinjiang, while the Central Asia–China gas pipeline has also connected Turkmenistan to Xinjiang allowing China to import gas. These two pipelines have made the region economically more lucrative. 

In a geostrategic context, Xinjiang carries crucial significance to influence political developments in South and Southeast and Central Asia. Because Xinjiang borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. The rugged Karakoram, Kunlun and Tian Shan mountain ranges also occupy much of the borders and Western and Southern regions of Xinjiang. It also borders the Tibet Autonomous Region and the provinces of Gansu and Qinghai of China.  

Given the analysis, It can easily be concluded that all allegations of 'Muslim oppression' in Xinjiang are unreliable. Some Western media have long been running such untrustworthy stories to withhold the rise of China. They have made Xinjiang their target of smear campaigns against China because of its geo-political-economic importance, and Muslim populace. They thus want to isolate China from the rest of the world, in particular, the Muslim community. However, no matter how much it is criticized, China can't give up its sovereignty over Xinjiang just as no country surrenders any of its parts to terrorists and separatists. 

The author is the China Correspondent of the Bangladesh Post.