There’s a cultural genocide taking place in China right now against the nation’s Uyghur minority. Aggressively monitored by Chinese authorities and faced with the constant threat of arrest or torture, this Turkish-speaking people in China’s Far West now exist in the world’s first, real-life, digital dictatorship.
It is no exaggeration to say the entire province of Xinjiang, an area only slightly smaller than Alaska, has been turned into a giant, open-air prison camp by the Chinese Communist Party. As author Nury Turkel explains in his new book, “No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs,” every neighborhood in Uyghur cities large and small now has its own hastily erected “convenience police station” manned by “low-level assistant police officers, who are more brute muscle than actual law enforcement officers.” The neighborhoods themselves are surrounded by manned checkpoints, where those who want to leave are forced to squint into a camera for a retinal scan before departure.
Each neighborhood is further broken down into small “grids” of 15 to 20 families, each with an assigned “grid monitor.” As the author writes, each monitor is tasked with snooping on their neighbors, reporting any suspicious or forbidden activities — such as Islamic practices like refusing to eat pork or fasting during Ramadan — to the authorities.
Then there are the Monday-morning flag-raising ceremonies, at which attendance is obligatory. As the red flag of communist China is raised, writes Turkel, who’s ethnic Uyghur, Party officials “lead chanted slogans about the greatness of the party and its secretary-general, Xi Jinping, and the need for Uyghurs to abandon their faith in anyone but him.”