Issue :   
September 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.          September 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


China suppresing Uighurs

M. R. Dua

Meet Adila , beautiful, lively, spirited, zestful, exceedingly articulate Uighur Muslim girl, 20-something of age, the newest arrival to Danville, California, USA, from her ancestral town in China’s southern Xinjiang province. She has come to the United States for higher studies.When asked how did she make it to America despite innumerable stringent restrictions Beijing has imposed on Uighurs’ movement, Adila seemed hesitant, shy and fidgety to elaborate. But on a mild, winsome request to elaborate, Adila opened up, ‘Chinese government does not treat us, Uighurs, well. You see, we’re a minority community... there’s a lot of prejudice against us... we all Uighur Muslims want independence from China.’
What Adila put in her short hesitant statement is abundantly borne out by a plethora of recent detailed media reports, including those by the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, and ambassadors from the 22 states and Human Rights Groups who describe internment camps in Xinjiang as concentration camps, where mainly Muslim Uighurs, and other minorities are being forcefully assimilated into China’s ethnic Han society.’ There’s ‘arbitrary detention... as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. The Chinese government describes these camps as ‘voluntary, vocational educational centers,’ where the detainees receive job training.

Another report states that these camps are centres to suppress Uighurs’ faith and belief in the Islamic religion and culture. Signature Islamic symbols like beard, wearing scull-caps or putting on neck-scarfs are banned. Anti-Islamic religion restrictions are so stiff that by the time the ‘trainees’ leave the camps they are expected to show no signs of being Uighur Muslims. The Chinese government says that these actions are ‘to curb religious extremism... creeping Islamization.’ It wants Islam ‘to perpetuate and operate the Chinese language.’

Sophie Richardson According to the China director for Human Rights Watch, S o p h i e Richardson,“the impunity with which Beijing has been able to persecute the Uighurs highlights ‘Chinese Exceptionalism’ at its worst.’’ And, now ironically, when India has detained the Kashmir’s fire-brand Muslim opposition leaders and hatchet men, loath some noise is heard all over, including among the Chinese. An Al Jazeera report says that for ‘the Uighurs exiles living in Kashmir far away from their homes in China’s province Xinjiang – having come to India through the ‘silk route’ as traders, is like heaven.’ But, as the Al Jazeera report says, living in India, the Uighur community doesn’t associate with the local Kashmiri separatists’ movement, or the Uighurs’ grievances against the Chinese government.

While China has branded nearly two million Turkic Muslim minority Uighurs in its northwest Xinjiang province as ‘terrorists’, prisoned since 2014 one million of them in the so-called ‘re-education camps’, as part of what it calls its ‘’fight against terrorism and religious extremists.” It’s for this reason that China is said to be aggressively enforcing ‘Sinise’ programme ‘to inculcate nationalism’ among its Uighur Muslim population.
The Beijing authorities are believed to have ordered the ‘halal’ restaurants and food shops to remove from the Arabic script signboards and symbols associated with Islam... like ‘crescent moon and the word ‘halal. The order prescribes: “Use Chinese Culture, and remove middle-eastern style dome on mosques, also in Chinese style Pagodas.”
Meanwhile, well-known scholar, S. Frederick Starr who has recently published a treatise titled ‘Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland’ has asserted that China’s brutality can’t destroy Uighur culture.’ He curtly opines that Beijing is scared because ‘Uighurs’ resilient culture may ultimately frustrate China’s efforts to stamp them out... efforts to suppress them will further radicalize them and drive their lives deeper underground... to exterminate them would require a double Holocaust.

The world powers, big or small, cannot afford to be blind and silent spectators while some 12 million Uighur Muslims suffer unlimited repressions and inhuman brutalities of China’s savagely heartless, hapless treatment.

Dolkun Isa Incidentally, when the president of the WUC (World Uighurs Congress), Dolkun Isa, was in India last year, he told a newspaper reporter that ‘India must be wary of its ties with China.’ The Munichbased WUC leader has said that the “re-education camps’ have nothing to do with fighting terrorism and it’s just yet another ‘tool for the Chinese government to persecute the Uighurs and crush dissent against the repressive rule of the Communist Party of China.’
But, it’s rather paradoxical that while most western nations have condemned and castigated China for its repressive crackdown on the Uighur Muslim minority, majority of the Muslim nations of middle east, besides Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc., have mostly been indifferent towards China’s Uighur Muslims’ plight.

The reason for this unexplained and unjustified Muslim nations soft attitude is said to be ‘China’s h e i g h t e n e d military presence’, Beijing’s largescale investments through Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In addition, China offers i n t e r e s t - f r e e massive financial assistance for most public works projects in those countries. These loans and grants to under-developed and developing nation bring in great political and diplomatic leverage to Beijing over its critics.

The world powers, big or small, cannot afford to be blind and silent spectators while some 12 million Uighur Muslims suffer unlimited repressions and inhuman brutalities of China’s savagely heartless, hapless treatment. Let the world not forget how very dangerous such a callous, insensitive, apathetic attitude can be towards a miniscule minority.