On behalf of the World Uyghur Congress and the wider Uyghur community, WUC President Dolkun Isa urgently appeals to the Muslim world, and leaders of Muslim-majority countries in particular, to finally end their long silence on the horrific persecution of Uyghurs. While Western states are increasingly active on the issue and have been publicly speaking out, Muslim-majority states have largely been indifferent or have completely ignored the situation.
The Uyghur people have been enduring unparalleled suffering, in a large part due to the fact that most are Muslims. Just in the last few years, Chinese authorities have forced Uyghurs to break their fast during Ramadan, prevented them from taking the Hajj, outlawed children from mosques and banned parents from teaching their children about Islam and banned Uyghurs from giving their children Muslim names.
The Chinese authorities have also been confiscating and burning Qurans and other religious texts, forcing Uyghurs to eat pork and drink alcohol, forcing Uyghur women to marry Han-Chinese men against their will and have destroyed 3,000 – 5,000 mosques, many of great historical and religious significance.
The Chinese government tolerates no authority higher than its own and religious belief is seen as a direct threat to the absolute authority of the CCP. For this reason, the Chinese government has launched an intentional and systematic campaign to control every aspect of religious practice in East Turkistan and erode religious sentiment entirely. In recent years we have seen this campaign escalate to the extent that the Uyghur people have virtually no religious freedom and are at risk of arbitrary detention, torture and other mistreatment for their religious beliefs.
In 2018, the situation has taken a disturbing turn, as 1 – 3 million Uyghurs have been rounded up and are currently being detained in what are essentially concentration camps. Uyghurs who were known to be religious or publicly expressed religious sentiments have been targeted in particular for detention. In these camps, they are being brainwashed and are being forced by the Chinese government to denounce Islam and swear loyalty only the Chinese government. Chinese officials have tried to justify this abhorrent policy, by falsely claiming it is fighting terrorism and described Islam as an ‘ideological illness’ that must ‘eradicated’. This is religious persecution on a truly massive scale and one of the largest mass arbitrary detentions in modern human history.
Despite the severity of the situation and the blatant attack on religious freedom, the Muslim-world has remained shamefully silent. While the Uyghur people have looked to leaders of Muslim-majority countries for help to end their suffering, they have been ignored and met with indifference.
During China’s UPR human rights review in the United Nations, virtually no Muslim-majority state mentioned the camps or China’s religious persecution of Uyghurs. In fact, some of these states had the audacity to congratulate China on its religious freedom or ‘counter-terrorism’ efforts. In the past year, Muslim-majority states raised Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims in the reviews or Finland, Netherlands and the UK, but said absolutely nothing about the horrific situation in China. While Western states have been increasingly raising this issue, Malaysia remains the only Muslim-majority country to speak publicly on the camps.
According to the WUC Muslim-majority countries have also been complicit in the persecution of Uyghurs. In July 2017, Egypt rounded up hundreds of innocent Uyghurs at China’s behest. They extradited at least 22 to China, who have since disappeared after being handed over the Chinese government. The UAE is currently detaining an innocent Uyghur who is at risk of being sent back to China and facing a similar fate.
The WUC notes that Muslim leaders seem to have a double standard with China. They raise the issues of Islamophobia and the persecution of Muslims in other situations, but remain shamefully silent when it comes to China. These countries have a moral responsibility to speak out against suffering of the Uyghur people, or at the very least to not be complicit in it. The WUC appeals to the Muslim world to stop putting Chinese money, investment and influence over human lives. The current silence of Muslim leaders contradicts the core values and principles of Islam.
It is time to end this hypocrisy and hold China accountable Uyghurs say. These leaders cannot claim to be defenders of Muslims if they let money prevent them from speaking about one of the most serious instances of religious persecution of Muslims in the world.
Through the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in concentration camps, the Chinese government is imprisoning Uyghur bodies. Through forced political indoctrination and brainwashing, they are trying to imprison Uyghur minds. And by denying Uyghurs their religious freedom and trying to erase everything about the Uyghur people that make them unique, the Chinese government seeks to imprison their souls.
WUC President Dolkun Isa therefore urgently appeals:
“To the leaders of Muslim-majority countries, to speak publicly about the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in internment camps and the religious persecution of Uyghurs Muslims and to demand that China immediately close the camps and respect freedom of religion.
To the governments of Muslim-majority countries, to not send any Uyghur students, refugees and asylum seekers back to China where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations and even death.
To the larger Muslim world, to loudly call on your governments to take concrete action to close down the camps and to ease the suffering of the Uyghur people.”