China forces Uighur Muslim population into internment camps
The Chinese government is facing criticism for its harsh crackdown on Muslim majority Uighurs, who live in the far western Xinjiang region.
According to Vox, almost one million Uighurs Muslims have been placed in “reeducation centers” that force people to undergo indoctrination programs such as learning communist propaganda and giving thanks to the country’s president Xi Jinping.
The Washington Post also reported claims of waterboarding, torture, and even death as part of the reeducation centers, which many criticize as internment camps.
However, the Chinese government denies that the camps are forced placements and refers to them as voluntary vocational training systems intended to curb religious extremism.
In a televised state broadcast, the government stated the goal of the camps is to “rescue ignorant, backward and poor rural minorities,” and in some cases described the Uighurs as actual or potential terrorists.
But for many Uighurs, this is a gross violation and an excuse to target the long excluded minority who have been model citizens.
"My mom (Gulnar Telet) is a mathematics teacher. She graduated from university. She's fluent in Mandarin. I don't know what kind of skill or education she needs," said 21-year-old Arfat Aeriken to CNN.
Many see the internment camps as methods of cultural genocide to erase the religion and culture of the Uighur people, who are a Turkic minority.
In a report by The Washington Post, Uighur Muslims have been forced to renounce their Islamic religion and the Uighur language. Thousands of children have also been separated from their parents and placed in orphanages.
According to the New York Times, almost 159 intellectuals and academics have detained in the past year, as per lists that Uighur escapees have provided.
A small number of democratic countries including Canada and the United States have publicly accused China of repressing Muslims and committing human rights violations through the internment camps.
Turkey, the only Muslim majority nation, has also condemned the country and has called for “the full protection of the cultural identities of the Uighurs and other Muslims” during the 2019 UN Human Rights Council.
The United Nations with other human rights groups has also demanded the Chinese government to give access to the camps and answer questions about the disappearance of the Uighur people.
Activists have also called on the world and the media to stop ignoring and staying silent on the current “genocide of the Uighur Muslims” according to Al Jazeera.
King Vajiralongkorn becomes new Thai king
Thailand has crowned its first monarch, King Maha Vajiralongkorn, after nearly seven decades. According to BBC News, the king inherited the throne after his father, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned as the country’s longest serving monarch with 70 years, passed away in 2016.
In a three day ceremony with elaborate coronation rites that took place this past weekend, Vajiralongkorn was handed the Great Crown of Victory, a gold crown that weighs 16 pounds and was bathed in holy water and flowers, as reported by CNN.
In a surprise wedding during the coronation ceremony, the king married the deputy head of his personal security, Suthida Tidjai, giving her the title of queen.
The coronation ceremony is something new even for Thai citizens, since the last ceremony was in 1950. In a spectacular procession with a golden palanquin and hundreds of marching soldiers in the streets of Bangkok, the new Thai king made his first public appearance as ruler on May 5, according to the Associated Press.
While Thailand’s monarch does not hold absolute power, it still great influence in the country. The Washington Post reports that it is a criminal act to insult or defame the monarchy. Punishment could last from three to 15 years in jail.