How to run a prison dictatorship: the 2019 updated 10-Step guide
Same shit, new tricks. Welcome to digital China. The tools of oppression, suppression and hypernormalisation have become more sophisticated. We should all be scared.
The background: one million muslims are held in “re-education centres”
The Uighurs are an ethnic group of 11 million strong, living in an area 5 times the size of Germany in Western China. It is believed that about 10% of the population, 1 million, could be locked up already. The details are only now beginning to emerge, and they are frightening. The size of the operation is just mind boggling. This brilliant documentary by DW has just come out and is where most of this information is from.
The Chinese Recipe:
1. Establish a highly visible police state with officers and checkpoints on the streets
2. Beef this up with new generation digital surveillance through cameras and face recognition software that can identify you wherever you go: the supermarket, the mosque, even the entrance to a toilet
3. Abolish digital privacy. Your phone is regularly snatched from you by police, in order to do a thorough check on who you talk to and what you’ve been browsing.
4. Randomly abduct and arrest people on “silly” charges and accuse them of terrorism, so that the rest of the population is terrified that they could be next.
5. Construct 100 huge detention camps usually in faraway locations only detectable via satellite imaging.
6. Ensure you lock away a significant percentage of the population, so that people are really scared and society is affected as a whole
7. In prison, inject people daily with psychodrugs that keep them mentally paralysed and make women’s menstruation stop
8. Make them sing great tunes all day like “I love China”, “China is great”, and the quite catchy “I am totally Chinese, and not an ethnic minority with my own identity at all”. Those who don’t sing don’t get to eat.
9. When the prisons are exposed, put together some great brochures and video testimonials, advertising a life full of fun, education and vocation inside the prisons
10. Hunt down and keep track of members of the Uighur community overseas. If they dare to return to China, arrest them
But this article is not about China. It is about our potential future, anywhere we live in the world
A gentle reminder:
China is not the first, nor the last country in the world to have had an oppressive regime, often aiming to isolate, detain and oppress ethnic groups who should feel lucky they are not just being outright exterminated (as my great grandparents were). Here are a couple of more countries:
ALBANIA ALGERIA ARGENTINA BANGLADESH BOLIVIA BURKINA FASO BURUNDI BRAZIL BURMA CONGO CHAD CENTRAL AFRIKAN REPUBLIC CHILE COLOMBIA CUBA DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ENGLAND EQUATORIAL GUINEA EGYPT ETHIOPIA EQUADOR EL SALVADOR GUATEMALA GUINEA GAMBIA GHANA GREECE HAITI HONDURAS ISRAEL INDONESIA IRAQ LIBYA LIBERIA MADAGASCAR MAURITANIA MYANMAR NICARAGUA NIGER NIGERIA PANAMA PARAGUAY PERU PAKISTAN POLAND PORTUGAL ROMANIA SIERRA LEONE SUDAN SOMALIA SPAIN SYRIA TURKEY UGANDA SOUTH KOREA SURINAME THAILAND URUGUAY UGANDA
I actually lied. This is not the whole list, this is just a list of military dictatorships I found online, all of which probably have used imprisonment as a strategy.
The full list is even longer
You will notice that Russia, and also Germany, who imprisoned and killed 6 million Jews, are missing from the list above as they don’t meet the technical criteria for military dictatorship.
So let’s just say that almost every country at some stage has used its prison system as a control instrument. This stuff runs in our blood..
The take home lesson is:
The tools of oppression, suppression and hypernormalisation have become more sophisticated, more covert, more efficient. History is repeating itself but with better tools.
As climate change brings our world closer to chaos, and puts our political systems, societies and even our democracies to the test, we must stand up for civil liberties.
You can follow me on Twitter @99blackbaloons