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Muslims in Nepal hold anti-China protest demanding justice for Uighurs

Muslims in Nepal on Sunday organised a protest against atrocities on Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang province of China. The protesters raised voice against the demolition of thousands of mosques in Xinjiang and the treatment being meted out to them by the Chinese government. Muslims in Pokhara also joined the international community in expressing their views on the gruesome human rights violations against Uighur Muslims. The Muslim Kalyankari Samaj held a protest in Pokhara, reflecting the severe anxiety and anger among local Muslims against Uighur in China. The community leaders said that they would keep raising their concern against atrocities on Uighurs in the future as well. Meanwhile, China is facing global political criticism over its alleged persecution of the Uighurs.

What is happening with the Uighurs in China?

The Uighurs are a mostly Muslim Turkic ethnicity who regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. The majority live in Xinjiang, where they number about 11 million people. The region’s economy has for centuries revolved around agriculture and trade. Towns there such as Kashgar thrived with the growth of the famous Silk route trading road. Uighur communities also live in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, and several thousand live in Australia. They have their language, also called Uighur. 

It is believed, that the Chinese government has detained up to a million of Uighurs over the past few years in which the state defines as the “re-education camps”. The government is now also accused of a programme of forced sterilisation against Uighur women. China initially denied the existence of the camps, before claiming they were a necessary measure against separatist violence in Xinjiang. It also denies carrying out forced sterilisations. Classified documents known as the China Cables, accessed last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, threw light on how the Chinese government uses technology to control Uighur Muslims worldwide. People in the internment camps have described being subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings, and denial of food and medicine, and they are, prohibited from practising their religion or speaking their language. In July 2020, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of “gross and egregious” human rights abuses against the Uighurs. The reports of forced sterilisation and wider persecution of the ethnic group were “reminiscent of something not seen for a long time”, he said.

Some 39 countries including Turkey, Germany, the U.S. and the U.K. urged Chinese authorities to respect the rights of over 1 million Uighur Muslims who are being kept in Chinese concentration camps, prompting an angry response from authorities in Beijing. Human rights charities including, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have long accused Beijing of mass imprisonment and torture. Most inmates in the so-called “re-education camps” have never been charged with a crime and have not received any legal representation, the charities say. “Beijing’s shameful denials in the face of well-evidenced UN allegations regarding mass arbitrary detentions in Xinjiang ought to shock the world,” reports the BBC at the time.

In the wake of recent reports of mass sterilisation of Uighur women, the Interparliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international cross-party group of politicians, called on the UN to establish an international, impartial, independent investigation into the situation in the Xinjiang region. A body of mounting evidence now exists alleging, mass incarceration, indoctrination, extrajudicial detention, invasive surveillance, forced labour, and the destruction of Uighur cultural sites, including cemeteries, together with other forms of abuse. The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo urged “all nations to join the United States in demanding an end to these dehumanizing abuses”.

In front of our eyes, one of the great crimes of the 21st Century is being committed. We see it but we don’t have it registered. The Chinese Communist Party is reverting to type, reviving the Mao era’s totalitarian terror. The Chinese scholar Adrian Zenz claims that the Communists are pressuring women to be sterilized or equipped with contraceptive devices to reduce the numbers of the predominantly Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang. The state sends them to join the one million Uighur people and other Muslim minorities imprisoned in what the state calls as “re-education” camps if they resist. A BBC report found that children were split from their families by China, so they grew up without knowing Islam.

With the mass sterilization of Muslim women, countries that could not accept Rushdie’s magical realist novel will survive. It may be a cheap argument, but it remains true that the global left would burn with indignation if a Western country were to show one-tenth, one-hundredth, or one-thousandth of the violence perpetrated by China on Muslims. Its absence can be partially clarified by logistical problems if you choose to be generous. Reporters are free to cover, for the time being, at any rate, China’s suppression of democracy in Hong Kong, but cannot tackle Xinjiang without .

By Karishma Gwalani

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