The Uyghurs in China Are Facing Persecution, And We Must Act Now!07 Dec 2021
Browsing through social media, you must have seen the hashtag #stand4uyghurs. You might have seen some kind of news or protests surrounding this issue and subject and are not sure as to why people are raising awareness. So firstly, who are the Uyghurs? The Uyghurs and their province is situated in China in a town called Xinjiang. It’s historic name was not Xinjiang as we know today, but was known as East Turkistan. Xinjiang was given its name by the Chinese occupiers, says Rushan Abbas, an executive director campaigner for the Uyghurs. But what is all the controversy around this issue? It’s a very serious matter and needs to be addressed in order to raise awareness.
The Uyghurs are an ethnic minority in China and are victims of horrendous crimes that are perpetrated by the Chinese secular government. The Chinese government and the ruling Chinese communist party (CCP) is officially Atheist. East Turkistan is populated by nearly 12 million and the majority of the Uyghurs are of Muslim faith and have their own distinctive language. This is an issue for the CCP as they have put it in their constitution that no religion is above THEIR law.
The crimes committed by the CCP are inhumane to say the least; the American secretary of state Mike Pompo has called it genocide along with many nations including the UK, USA, Canada and Germany with Lithuania being the latest country to call China’s treatment of Uyghurs a ‘genocide’. There are talks and information coming out that state the Uyghurs have been detained in so called ‘re-education’ centres which have been erected to apparently tackle extremism by the people who follow the Islamic faith. You could call these education centres, or rather concentration camps. (Sounds very familiar!)
A report by Human Rights Watch describes that Xinxiang have built 260 Massive detention structures since 2017, a satellite imagery confirmed by Buzzfeed, which shows more evidence into the claim that these are detention or concentration camps solely to eradicate the identity of the Uyghurs and their faith. This is a clear ethnic cleansing taking place in the 21st century and nobody is outraged that this is going on in this day and age!
Not only have they been detained against their will, but are also forced to work in factories and fields inside and outside of Xinjiang, which the Australian think tank have revealed and have described 82 global brands (which should be identified, so we can Boycott!) using their workers for forced labour (Human right watch). The CCP are also using government linked groups and have been accused of using malicious hardware to hack into Uyghurs’ phones as part of their surveillance to keep track of their every move. Think of it like a Big Brother type of surveillance.
China has the world’s greatest irreligious population, and when they see Islam becoming a popular religion in the region and the fastest growing religion in the world, this is seen as a type of threat to the CCP.
The suffering endured by the Uyghurs are not just what I mentioned above, as Nury Turkel put it, a humans right activist, who said that the Chinese government are separating children from their mothers, that there have been cases of rape, and that people are living in a highly surveillanced police state, monitoring the Uyghurs’ every single move. They are also banning the use of traditional Muslim names and have detained around 2 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. Wearing a face veil or beard has been banned. They have destroyed 1000’s historical mosques, if not more, and are doing so as part of their crackdown on so-called extremism. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CCP, has pursued policies that have imprisoned Uyghurs without any legal process and is estimated to be the largest detention camp for the ethnic and religious minority since World War II.
His policies include forcibly separating hundreds and thousands of children from their parents and putting them into some kind of boarding school, and forcing the Uyghurs into modern day slavery and working in extreme environments. There is also suppression for freely practising their Muslim faith, which includes not allowing them to fast during the month of Ramadan and force feeding them food which is not permissible under the Islamic ruling, as well as forced sterilization and contraception on Uyghur women and forced abortions. Since carrying out these horrific policies and implementing them, the Chinese statistics show that the Uyghur population has fallen by 60% from 2016 till 2018 as the birth rate continues to fall as a result of their sterilisation. There have also been accusations of forced marriages of Muslim women to marry Hans Chinese men against their will. If they do not abide by these forced marriages, they face being arrested, them and their families and put into the detention centres. It is part of China’s attempt to eradicate the Uyghur ethnicity and culture and integrate them into the Han-ruled society.
As we try to cover and dig a little deep into this horrific subject, we haven’t even touched the surface of the atrocious suffering endured by the Uyghur Muslims of East Turkistan. As Muslims and as human beings, we should not keep quiet when such shocking acts are taken place against helpless people just because they follow a certain faith. But what can we do to help raise awareness and tackle this issue to try and help in this course? On Saturday 13 November 21, in London and Manchester, the biggest protest took place, for the Uyghurs, outside the Chinese government buildings to put pressure and demand the end to the Uyghur’s genocide once and for all!
Various renowned speakers showed up in solidarity with the Uyghurs’ suffering and some gave a very emotional yet powerful message. Moazzam Begg, formerly and wrongly detained in the US’s Guantanamo Bay torture camp said, “We stand against the Chinese Imperialism, colonisation and opposition to Islam”!
The attendees included representatives from the Sikh community, the socialist workers party and in addition to numerous British Muslims delegates from fifty organisations. Apart from protesting, which is one of the great ways to show solidarity and raise awareness in the process, how do we show support and try to help this cause? Social Media has become one of the main and most influential tools that everyone has access to. If there’s a protest or any evidence, use hashtags and share information on your social media platform. The more people know, the better educated they are. Try to encourage talks and debates at universities, colleges and use some of your projects at school to talk about the Uyghurs and educate your fellow classmates or even colleagues who you work with. Last, but definitely not least, as Muslims we have the greatest tool which was prescribed to us is the power of Duah (Prayer). Don’t forget them in your prayer and too all who are suffering around the world. We are one ummah and one body; if one part of the body has pain then all the body feels the pain as the hadith states (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6011). I will leave you with a quote from the Holy Quran which demonstrates that injustice will never prevail and the believers can seek some comfort in its message from Allah (God):
“Do not suppose that Allah is oblivious of what the wrongdoers are doing. He is only granting them respite until the day when the eyes will be glazed”. Quran (14:42)