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A Teen Condemning Uighur ‘Concentration Camps’ in China Goes Viral on TikTok

The video starts as a makeup tutorial, but quickly turns into a criticism of the Chinese government.

by Aditya Mirchandani
27 November 2019, 10:21am

Photo by Lionel Bonaventure / AFP

Don’t let its silly trends fool you, TikTok is not all fun and games. A video uploaded on the Chinese-owned social media platform has gone viral, as it features a teen criticising the abusive internment camps for Chinese Uighur Muslims.

The clip, posted on November 23, features 17-year-old Feroza Aziz from New Jersey. The video starts with her teaching the audience how to achieve long lashes, but quickly takes a turn when she suddenly details the human rights violations taking place within China’s “re-education centres.” The video has gathered around 5 million views across different platforms and has been shared and re-uploaded on other social networks.

“Hi guys! I wanna teach you guys how to get long lashes,” Aziz starts in the viral clip.

“So the first thin you need to do is grab your lash curler, curl your lashes, obviously, then you’re gonna put them down, and use your phone that you're using right now, to search up what’s happening in China, how they’re getting concentration camps, throwing innocent Muslims in there, separating their families from each other, kidnapping them, murdering them, raping them, forcing them to eat pork, forcing them to drink, forcing them to convert different religions, if not, or else, they're gonna, of course get murdered.”

Uighurs are a Muslim minority in China who mostly reside in Xinjiang province, where these re-education camps are located.

The Afghan-American teen, who is a Muslim herself, uploaded the three-part videos series on Tiktok, where she describes the treatment of Uighurs as “another holocaust, yet no one is talking about it."

In the second part of the series, she explains why she leads her videos with a makeup tutorial. “I say that so TikTok doesn’t take down my videos,” she says.

Despite her efforts, Aziz said her videos are still being taken down. However, TikTok has denied this.

"TikTok does not moderate content due to political sensitivities," a spokesperson told BBC News. "Her new account and its videos, including the eyelash video in question, were not affected and continue to receive views.”

Aziz’s previous account was permanently banned after she posted an unrelated video that insinuates that she has a crush on Osama bin Laden. It is important to note that TikTok videos usually have a weird sense of humor, and should not be taken literally. Still, this clip was deemed to have been in violation of the platform’s Community Guidelines on terrorism-related material. TikTok has been cracking down on such content, especially after dozens of ISIS-backed accounts were discovered.

China’s treatment of Uighurs has been condemned in various forms in pop culture. In August, a manga by Japanese artist Tomomi Shimizu also went viral for chronicling the true story of a Uighur woman who was detained and tortured on three separate occasions after having her kids taken away from her. One of her kids mysteriously died after treatment at a government hospital.

This file photo taken on June 2, 2019 shows buildings at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center, believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Leaked government documents outlining the need to
The Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center in Xinjiang. It is believed to be a re-education camp. Photo by Greg Baker / AFP

Classified documents called “the China Cables” were leaked on November 24, revealing the inner workings and instructions laid out by those in charge of the internment camps. The leaked documents included instructions to staff on how to enforce standards and “behaviour management” on those detained in the internment camps.

“The trainee’s study, life, and activity management system should be formulated in detail, and the students should have a fixed bed position, fixed queue position, fixed classroom seat, and fixed station during skills work, and it is strictly forbidden for this to be changed.”

The documents also detail the length of surveillance that those running the camp are enforcing.

“There must be full video surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms free of blind spots, ensuring that guards on duty can monitor in real time, record things in detail, and report suspicious circumstances immediately.”

The internment camps have received condemnations from civil right organisations, as more and more stories of abuse from detained Uighur Muslims have surfaced. Accusations of torture, severe beatings, sexual abuse, and brainwashing are some of the atrocities reportedly taking place in the camps.

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.