When the gas chambers of Nazi Germany were discovered, when the industrialized mass murder of Jews was revealed to us and when the incident of Hiroshima Nagasaki happened, people across the world found themselves repeating two words “NEVER AGAIN”. The two simple words carry a deeper sense, a mantra with an important message and a promise that the world will never again let this happen. The notion behind that the world will never again stay silent about large scale crimes against humanity. But, seven decades after the holocaust, the world is doing the same.
The global community in the past few months shifted its focus on China’s action. Ranging from the present pandemic to the ill-treatment of Uighur Muslims in the northwestern city of Xinjiang. A new totalitarian state has emerged, a more powerful and ambitious regime than the world has witnessed before, it has spread a deadly virus across the world and is undertaking a cultural and religious genocide at home. The world stands silent even those who call themselves the self-declared heads and well-wishers of the Muslim community in the world. The solemn pledge of NEVER AGAIN is just a dead letter now and it’s lost with the time in history.
The silence of the international community against their plight is just promoting their sufferings. To a shocking surprise, the silence of those who claim them to be defenders of the faith Uighurs belongs to, Muslims. The protests against France can be witnessed all over the world but why the Muslim nations are silent on the sufferings of Uighur.
Who are Uighurs?
A Muslim minority group that lives in the north-western city of China, they are essentially Sunni Muslims of Turkic ethnicity which are part Central Asian and part European, the majority live in Xinjiang, where they are numbered about 11 million people.
They embraced Islam around the 10th Century and prior to Islam, the Uighurs had embraced various other religion that includes Buddhism, Manichaeism and Shamanism. Despite living in China, they do not look Chinese, they do not want to feel Chinese, they have their own language, culture and cuisine, but they had forced to act Chinese.
A Broader Perspective
The home to Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang (Formerly known as East Turkestan) which is the largest province of China, roughly the size of Iran and 12 times the size of Bangladesh. Xinjiang borders eight countries most of which have Islam as the largest religion but surprisingly Xinjiang remains the part of atheist China. The People’s Republic of China annexed this region in 1949 as Mao Zedong took control of Xinjiang to prevent Russia. At that time, the Uighur Muslims made up 76% of the Xinjiang population. The Han Chinese, the countries majority ethnic group accounted for just 6% but today Xinjiang is made up of 42% of Uighurs and 40% of Han Chinese. The population of Uighurs had reduced drastically and sudden increase in the population of Han Chinese.
The Uighurs’ minority has become victims of forced assimilation because controlling Xinjiang is essential for the Chinese regime due to multidimensional reasons. Xinjiang is the largest and most important strategic province for the People’s Republic of China. The region is a sine qua non for Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative and it is not wrong to say that it as the Beijing’s gateway to Europe and Central Asia. The most telling example of China’s “One-China” principle but national and religious unity is not only the thing at stake in Xinjiang.
The province is strategically important for China from an economic point of view as this land is overflowing with riches. China’s largest reserves account for 1/3rd of its natural gas and oil reserves which are located here. It also contributed 60% of China’s cotton output and 38% of China’s coal reserves and, billions of dollars are at stake which is why Xinjiang is China’s most militarized region.
It is said, that one of the three Chinese living in Xinjiang works for security forces and one in ten Uighur Muslims living in Xinjiang is behind bars. A total of 11 million Muslims are said to live here and almost 2 million are in behind bars while the rest of them are under a sophisticated surveillance system on a daily basis. China says that it is doing all these to curb terrorism, the world says this is persecution.
What is Happening With the Uighurs in China?
China sends these Muslims to concentration camps (detention camps) and calls them “re-education camps and joyful training school”. The Chinese regime says its correcting extremist behaviour but in reality, these places are unlike anywhere on the Earth.
The Muslims are subjected to political indoctrination, they are forced to follow the Communist way of life and those who disobey are tortured in the most inhumane way. It includes solitary confinement, deprivation of food, water and sleep.
They are released only when they succumb to beliefs and ideologies of Communist and atheist China but it does not mean that they are free. As they are not allowed to practice their religion and faiths and even Communist Party approved Friday Sermons (Chinese version of Quran), those who disobey are publicly shamed and sometimes publicly executed. It is an open jail for the Uighurs.
China is violating the most basic human rights. They are not stopped here; they go beyond that if you think the aforementioned situation is bad then ponder on what I am going to mention. The Uighur women’s are forced for sterilization and abortions, they are victims of China’s “Pair up and Become Family” Programme you need to know what it is, it is simply a state-sanctioned rape. There are many more things to discuss how Uighurs are suppressed and tortured in China. Despite all this, the Islamic and whole world is silent on the Uighur genocide.
What Does the World Say?
Everyone is just condemning the act of China but there are not any concrete steps by the world powers to curb the same. The UN has called it ‘one of the worst cases of human rights violation since World War II’ but calling it so does not stop it, what has the UN done about it and what has the world done about, they have raised concerns.
In July 2019, 22 western nations raised concerns in an unprecedented joint call for China to end Xinjiang abuses. At least, 37 countries recruited by China came up with a letter and they white-washed China’s crime as counter-terrorism operations. Shockingly, 14 of these countries were Muslim majority state and they are members of the body which claims to be ‘Collective Voices of the Muslims’, i.e., OIC but in the case of China they act as “Collective Defence of China”.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the torchbearers of Islam and some authoritarian regimes that shout the loudest but have bowed their head in silence. The name of countries in the order which make the noise for Muslim Solidarity are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia and Pakistan. Their scream can always be heard in the slightest of criticism to their religion. But they are willfully blind to China’s unspeakable crimes against the Uighurs. What explains their silence? It’s money and the so-called leaders of the Islamic world are silent on the genocide of China’s Muslim.
Everyone is just behind the money of China. As every other so-called Muslim leader needs the capital of China and the hypocrisy in the matter is legendary. Ranging from the Recep Tayyip Erdogan who wants to be modern-day Sultan of Muslims to Mohammed Bin Salah of Saudi Arabia. No one is speaking for China’s Muslims and the reason is well explained above here.
These same countries would have to burn with outrage if any other country just alleged for 1/10th of atrocities on Muslims (as what China was doing) or any other issue related to the faith of Muslims. The case in point is of France as there is a global outrage against France. The idea of Muslim Solidarity is just a foreign policy tool for the so-called torch bearer of Islamic world countries because they use it when it suits them. And here it is a challenge for them, will they ever call out China for the ethnic cleansing of Uighur Muslims and will they ever speak up for Uighurs? We know the answer but still, I will wait for the day if it comes by any chance.
Violation of International Law and Treaties
It is evident that under Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution. It is impossible for Uighur Muslims to seek constitutional relief under the authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party. China is a party to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide (“Convention”). Article 1 of the Convention provides that the state parties are required to punish and prevent genocide under International Law. China is also a state party to the ICCPR and the ICESR. As per Article 20 and Article 27 of the ICCPR, there is an obligation on the state to provide safeguard against religious discrimination. Article 13(3) of ICESR provides that the parent’s right to educate their children as per their religious beliefs.
Under the Rome Statute, China can be held liable as per Article 6 and Article 7 as it defines genocide by listing different acts such as killing, sterilization etc. China is doing almost everything possible to end the existence of Uighurs. China is not a party to Rome Statute which prevents the ICC from exercising its jurisdiction over the crimes. There are many more violations that China already has done ranging from violation of the basic right to life to the international crime of genocide.
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