The unprecedented human rights violations that have resulted in millions of Uighur Muslims being detained in internment camps is harrowing. Which nation, which government, which authority or leader in the Muslim world will stand up for Uighur Muslims and take action to gain their freedom? It is not only about denouncing the oppression and discrimination against Uighur Muslims in China but it a moral responsibility to hold Chinese authorities accountable for the ill-treatment of Muslims in the region.
The Chinese authorities have continued to implement its brutal crackdown in Xinjiang, located in the northwest region of China. Uighur Muslims are being made to denounce their faith and embrace the Chinese Communist Party. Many mosques in Xinijang remain empty, fasting during Ramadan and Islamic education are being heavily restricted and banned and islamophobia is being spread by party authorities to gain support.
China’s political and economic power should not be the reason for any government or authority to remain deafeningly silent in the wake of injustice against its own brothers and sisters. When the world denounces the persecution of Muslims in Palestine and the Rohingya where is a statement to condemn the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China?
According to a report from the Guardian, James A Millward, a scholar who has researched Xinjiang for three decades, argued that the “state repression in Xinjiang has never been as severe as it has become since early 2017”.
What would it take for a head of state in the Muslim world to challenge Chinese President Xi Jinping on the condition of Uighur Muslims? Is getting an investment from China a reason to sell out millions of innocent Uighur Muslims who fear for their lives? Frustratingly, countries such as Egypt and even Saudi Arabia have been deporting Uighurs who managed to escape China.
The struggle of the Uighurs has been one that has a long history of deliberate discrimination from the Chinese government. Beijing first issued a “warning” by submitting documents to the United Nations describing the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organisation. The crackdown on Uighur Muslims than began and heightened to the extent that today almost a million Uighurs remain in counter-extremism centres.
According to a report by Amnesty International, “Buzainafu Abudourexiti, a Uighur woman who returned to China in 2015 after studying for two years in Egypt, was detained in March and sentenced in June to seven years’ imprisonment after a secret trial. In August, international media reported that education authorities had issued an order in June in the largely Uighur-populated Hotan Prefecture to ban the use of the Uighur language in schools, including for “collective activities, public activities and management work of the education system”. Media reports stated that families across the region were required to hand copies of the Qur’an and any other religious items to the authorities or risk punishment.”
Despite the awareness of the persecution of Uighurs rapidly growing around the world there still remains to be little pressure on governments to speak up and take action against the Chinese authorities.
China has become a key trading hub on a global scale, which is part of heart breaking reason why silence is prevailing over injustice but for how long can countries around the world continue to remain silent?