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Sticks and Stones May Break my Bones But Concentration Camps Will Kill Me

Ignorant comments? Yes. Concentration camps? Yes. Real development and growth? No.

Something along those lines is what Trump’s policy has consistently been to all the actions we see taken by the American administration. Why concentration camps? Last month New York district Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Hispanic Representative famous for voicing her opinions and opposing popular viewpoints, visited the border side ‘internment camps’ or migrant camps that house hundreds of immigrants crossing into the US. Observing the state of these camps and the desolate treatment of the women, men, and children, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez passionately named them ‘concentration camps’ in a nationally aired radio interview.

The political gambit this last year has been shifting towards the right – we have more conservative world leaders taking conservative, often self-defensive decisions now than we did, say, five years ago. As a result of having such governments who are used to covering their politically motivated actions, there are astounding crimes happening world-wide not being covered by the media. One of the most pressing issues is that of the modern-day concentration camps we see growing in numbers in developed nations like the US, China and Russia. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, made the comparison between the camps being set up border side in the US with the historically popular Nazi concentration camps, she publicized a side of Trump’s meaningless fight against immigrants that is an actual breach of basic human rights.

The state in these camps is astounding – the so-called ‘housing facilities’ by the border patrol are large, mostly unstructured rooms with hoards of people, including children anywhere close to 4 years old, being kept in derelict conditions. One group of state lawyers even recorded interviews with immigrants in the camp and captured video proof of children recalling how the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers kept many of them in one small room, gave them no means of protection against very cold conditions, provided no food and water for days and didn’t treat extremely sick children even when diseases spread within these closed areas. Women are not handled well, forced sometimes to drink water from toilets to sustain themselves and even dragged by their hair by CBP officials when refusing to separate from their children at borders. All they want is a chance at a normal life when the circumstances in their countries make staying alive day after day impossible; this is what they are being punished for.

The situation in China is worse, with an estimated 1 million Turkish Muslims being held with complete deniability from the Chinese government in the Xinjiang Province and various documented crimes against thousands of Tibetans treated as another part of the administration’s political agenda. The Chinese government is completely suffocating a culture and wiping out years of tradition in Tibet but is consistently failing at owning up to its actions. Historically the planned economy hasn’t ever gotten a lot of attention for its systematic crimes because of the secretive manner they are committed – but there is a reason why the media is controlled and free speech censored in China.

The fact of the matter is that there is absolutely no accountability from anybody’s side for the crimes being committed, the hostile situations created and the careless actions being taken by nations. There are jokes being made about shooting migrants who cross the border, memes by CBP about telling a dead body apart from a living person, issues being taken lightly that don’t get enough attention. There has always been an international debate on what the term concentration camp even means, sparked again by AOC’s statements, but instead of focusing on labels and validation, we should be focusing on the main issue - how people who have committed no crime except for being Hispanic, Tibetan, Muslim or anything other than a certain race or colour are dragged from their homes to be put into large ‘holding sites’ and kept in hostile and inhumane conditions.

How far can ethnic cleansing be justified by gross human rights violations? How far can we allow developed nations to blame economic and social problems on its diverse population? What has to be done to hold governments responsible for taking human lives and completely washing out cultures and years of tradition? These are all the questions raised when one looks at the effective repetition of history that is taking place around the world, the replay of incidents that always start as underestimated issues and escalate to the death of millions.

-Rudri Mehta


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