The plight of Uyghur Muslims

Silence of Pakistan, Turkey on Chinese repression of Uyghur Muslims outrageous: US lawmakers

Few fortnights back, a drone footage unmasked the dirty side of China. Uyghur Muslims living in Xinjiang province are blindfolded and taken to unknown concentration camps. Satellite images show that Chinese government has built hundreds of detention camps and they continue to expand. In the far north-west of ‘People’s Republic’ of China, a monstrous crime is taking place. What Beijing calls ‘political education centers’ are carbon copies of Guantanamo Bay. Forced indoctrination takes place in China’s most militarized zone. Xinjiang is a black hole for Muslims.

Before embracing Islam around 10th century, Uyghur’s practiced Buddhism, Shamanism and Manichaeism. They had their own color, culture and cuisine. Now, they stand robbed off their identity. They are not even remotely connected to communist China. They are forced to feel Chinese. Xinjiang is the largest province of the Red Dragon. It borders eight countries, most of which are Muslim majority. In 1949, Mao Zedong forcibly annexed it to prevent Russia from taking over. 76% of Muslims used to live in Xinjiang back then. In last seven decades, they are reduced to just 40%.

The official mouthpiece of the new totalitarian state believes that it controls Islamic extremism through these concentration camps but facts and figures tell complex tales. In 2019, the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) published a report detailing this campaign, titled “Demolishing Faith: The Destruction and Desecration of Uyghur’s Mosques and Shrines.” “

An investigation by Agence France-Presse revealed that 45 cemeteries have been destroyed from 2014 to Oct 2019 and turned into parking areas. China is planning to shrink Muslim population. Uyghur women are subjected to forced sterilization and abortion.

Uyghur’s have become victims of forced assimilation. They don’t live life; they just exist. Let’s read some shocking statistics. One in every ten Uighur Muslims is behind bars. Out of 10 million Uyghurs, two million are in jail and the remaining eight million are in constant surveillance. Checkpoints are at every turn.  Cameras scan everything under the sky. Muslims are subjected to political indoctrination. They are forced to recite Communist Party propaganda songs every day. Those who don’t are tortured, publicly shamed and executed. They are released only when they succumb to beliefs and language of China. This is persecution.

Uyghur’s can’t celebrate Eid. They can’t wear traditional/religious outfit.  Women are not allowed to wear Burqas. Young men can’t keep beard. Ramzan fasting is curtailed. The atheist government has launched a massive CASO. Uyghurs are fleeing repression. 1500 year old written Uyghur literature is banned. When language goes, culture fades. Women are forced into abortion to depopulate the region. In 2018, 80% of Intrauterine devices have been installed in Xinjiang for population control. Millions of Uyghur go through intense brainwashing in the “reeducation camps”. Credible reports suggest that more than a million Chinese officials have moved into Uyghur homes to monitor everyday activities. They are locked for anything like reading Quran, having beard or wearing headscarf. It is fueling new rage. But the Muslim world is not bothered. The silence of international community against their plight especially those who claim to be the defenders of Muslims is appalling. Why there is no outrage from OIC.

In July 2019, 22 western nations raised concerns about China’s atrocities in Xinjiang. What happened next is unexpected. The state narrative has been that it is a backward feudal region. Since the ethnically driven unrest that flared up in 2009, Xinjiang has seen periodic violence and bloodshed attributed to Uighur Muslims. Chinese state media echo the government’s version of what they make them believe because the president wants the press to be loyal to the state.

Now, let’s find the answer to how Muslim brethren disappointed Uyghur. 37 countries wrote a joint letter and white washed China’s crimes as counter-terrorism operations. 14 of these were Muslim countries, all members of OIC-a body which claims to represent the aspirations of Muslims across the globe. China has become a key trade partner with Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.  The Belt and Road network, an international trade network has a strategic location. Xinjiang is home to 5th of China’s total oil reserves. It is the biggest producer of coal. 1/3rd of China’s natural gas reserves are located here. Xinjiang contributes 60% of China’s cotton output. This resource rich region is an open jail for the domiciles.

Uyghur children wake up in empty houses and realize later that their parents have been taken for few years. Kids of the stolen parents are left alone so that the government takes care of them. They are stripped of their tradition and faith. People are being tracked by high-tech surveillance web. Buzzfeed News Correspondent Megha Rajagopalan revealed that their mobile phone devices and laptops are checked. “Controlling access is center to their strategy.” Abduweli Ayup fled the region. Raped and tortured for 15 months in concentration camp, he said, “Xi is doing to Uyghur’s what Hitlar did to Jews.”

Author is executive member of Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) India Chapter.