Former Kansas governor and senator Sam Brownback said China’s use of high-tech surveillance to oppress and monitor Uighur Muslims is the future of religious oppression that could spread across the world. Brownback is now U.S. ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom.
During a webinar on “China’s Rising Threat to Human Rights” sponsored by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, panelists discussed the religious persecution of Uighur Muslims, a community that resides mostly in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China, and its implications for the wider religious community.
Brownback said the tactics used against Uighur Muslims represent the “cutting edge of religious persecution.” An estimated one million Uighur Muslims have been subject to internment camps in Xinjiang, where they are taught to be secular citizens who will never come against the ruling Communist Party. Although they live in a remote region, China is employing its “most aggressive technology” to oppress Uighurs, including sophisticated cameras, facial-recognition technology and collecting DNA samples, Brownback said.
“They’ve got technology deployed now where they’ve got surveillance cameras virtually everywhere in public,” he said. “They’ve collected genetic data on most of the people in the region to where you can be tracked on the Internet, they have facial recognition systems. They could now theoretically close all the concentration camps and you would still live in a virtual police state if you were a Uighur in Xinjiang.”
Brownback predicted that China’s methods represent “the future of religious oppression,” adding that eventually, religious minorities are “going to be oppressed by a system where they can’t live and work in the society if they choose to practice their faith.”Bottom of Form
“They get a low social credit score and then they can’t get a ticket to get on the bus or the train, or they can’t take their kids to school or they can’t get an apartment, because they are identified on the Internet, in these technology systems as a religious adherent,” he said. “And that’s what’s happening today in Xinjiang to the Uighur Muslims. And that is a threat to all of us. We really need to aggressively push back.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice