Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Treatment of the Uighurs By the People’s Republic of China; a story of internment and terror.

On the 1st of July, Federal authorities in New York seized a shipment of hair weaves from China that they suspect are made from human hair. Specifically, the hair of ethnic Uighur women who are being held in internment camps by the People’s Republic of China.

“Federal authorities in New York on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp.

Uighur detainees in the Xinjiang Reeducation camp, China. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Uighurs are an ethnic Turkic minority who are also Muslim. They live in Xinjiang Province, which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has sought to fully control. This control is both territorial and cultural, by forcing the Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the province to assimilate to the dominant majority culture within China.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials told The Associated Press that 13 tons (11.8 metric tonnes) of hair products worth an estimated $800,000 were in the shipment.

“The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in U.S. supply chains,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade.

“This is the second time this year that CBP has slapped one of its rare detention orders on shipments of hair weaves from China, based on suspicions that people making them face human rights abuses. The orders are used to hold shipping containers at the U.S. ports of entry until the agency can investigate claims of wrongdoing.”

The forced assimilation of nearly a million people has included reeducation in internment camps, as well as forced attempts to artificially lower the Uighurs reproductive rate by forcefully limiting their reproductive freedom. This is a form of genocide. So reports of hair products being made from the hair of Uighur detainees should set off alarm bells.

Specifically, these reports, as well as the recent reports about the forced attempts to artificially lower the Uighur’s reproductive rate as a form of population control and diminishment should grab everyone’s attention. This is not the first time that news like this has been reported in the U.S., Britain, Canada or other parts of the world.

During World War II, news made it to Washington, D.C., London, and Ottawa that religious minorities were having their rights curtailed, being rounded up, detained, and interned in camps, being involuntarily sterilized, and having their hair shaved and then sold. That news was about what the Nazis were doing to German Jews, Roma, homosexuals, political dissidents, and the developmentally disabled.  This occured both in Germany and in the states they conquered and occupied.

The U.S. Holocaust Museum and The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum* have exhibits with graphic photographic evidence of how the Nazis stole the hair of their victims and turned it into a variety of commercial products.

After World War II ended and the full horrors of the Holocaust were brought to light by the documentary evidence obtained by U.S. and Allied Forces (much of it used during the Nuremberg Trials of 1945 to 1949) two phrases emerged as a response. One was ‘never forget’. The other was ‘never again’.

In 2020, given the evidence emerging from Xinjiang Province, we have to ask ourselves what does ‘never again’ really mean?

This is the second shipment of hair weaves that the U.S. government has intercepted.

There has been no issuance of a démarche – a strongly worded diplomatic statement issued by U.S. Embassy Beijing condemning this action and notifying the People’s Republic of China that if it does not stop these actions, then the U.S. will both alone and with its allies, take more forceful measures. There has been no condemnation from the U.S. administration.

In fact, recent reporting indicates that the President has taken no action to change China’s behavior regarding the Uighurs because he did not want it to interfere with his potential trade deal with China. Moreover, the reporting indicates that he actually encouraged Xi Jinping’s use of internment camps in dealing with the Uighurs.

The news that China is selling hair products made from the hair of Uighurees detained in internment camps, that they are forcibly sterilizing them, and the lack of any real, enforceable response from the United States means we have to ask — what does never again really mean?

* I highly recommend the virtual tour of The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.