• Aysha Yasin

Uyghur Muslims: How Silence Kills

The media is powerful. We all know it. They have the power to bring even the most hidden government secrets and injustices from all corners of the globe into the spotlight. They have the capacity to give the public a glimpse into the lives of thousands, even from half way across the world; through them - what we read and what we watch - we can hear voices that we could never usually hear.

But here’s how the media failed the Uyghur Muslims in China...

Millions are left speechless. Their voices silenced. Their human rights stripped away. And until recently, most of us knew nothing.

Here’s what’s been happening....

The Uyghur Muslims are a Muslim ethnic minority group comprised of over 11 million who live mostly within the Xinjiang province in northwestern China. Over the last few years relations between this

group and the Chinese government have exponentially soured. To put it simply, the Chinese government decided to detain Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps within the Xinjiang state.

Due to scrutiny from the masses, China has self-defined these camps as ‘re-education’ centres - however, anyone who has read the news and heard statements from the victims knows they are nothing of the sort.

Reports have estimated that over a million Uyghur Muslims are detained within this system.

So what’s really going on in these detention camps?

I'd call it genocide

Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large sum of people. It is an inhumane act wherein measures are placed to prevent births within a group; people of the group are killed and children of the

group are transferred away forcibly to other locations.

This is what the Genocide Convention uses to determine what exactly a genocide is - and it is happening right under our noses.

The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that the international community must 'be careful’ in making claims on whether the Uyghur Muslim crisis is a genocide - he himself, has however, described their treatment by Chinese’s authorities as “gross and egregious.”

There’s so much evidence about what is really going inside these camps I really can’t fathom how our governments are able to turn a blind eye to it all. 

Muslims that were previously detained have described how this supposed ‘re-education’ system operates

more like a prison system.

Their accounts detail the brain-washing of the Uyghur people taking place through forcing the detained to eat pork and drink alcohol - actions which are forbidden in Islam.

There are accounts of being made to sing communist songs to earn meals and punishing those who resist through solitary confinement alongside psychological torture.


Unlike what China is telling the world - this isn’t fake news.


Official documents have been leaked which instruct camps to ‘never allow escapes' and ‘increase discipline and punishment’ - amongst other orders aimed at fully controlling the lives of detainees. Human rights advocate and attorney Nury Turkel has likened these documents to a ‘Nazi playbook.’

Muslim children are being separated from their families - parents are left in the detention camps or trying desperately to find out where their children are.

Social media has been flooded with messages from families with the hashtag #MeTooUyghur.


Here is one message shared amongst thousands:


"Are my family alive?"


China’s excuse for these measures is one that makes absolutely no sense. They claim that by educating children in ‘boarding schools’ they are actively tackling the issue of extremism within these communities.

It’s baffling.

Labelling a whole minority ethnic group as ‘extremist’ simply for practising their religion, and then using it to justify the hold of one million civilians with zero proof of any associated terrorist activity is....infuriating.

Everyday I am reminded that as a Muslim I am hated and despised amongst people that don’t even know me. And now China has taught me that it’s a crime to be a Muslim too.


Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there.

Reports from victims that have been in these camps describe the occurence of forced sterilisation to prevent Uyghur Muslims from having children in the future. Women are being fitted with contraceptive devices involuntarily to limit population sizes of Uyghur and other ethnic minorities in China. Pregnant women are being told to abort their babies and if they don’t comply they are punished for it. 

The ethnic cleansing of Uyghur Muslims is happening and it is real. 

These atrocities are taking place right now and we’re here...waiting for history textbooks to showcase these events in a few decades' time...so we can look back at them and say, “how could we let this happen?”

Our world leaders are silent but it doesn’t mean that we should be.

I recently read something posted as a comment online and it hit me at full force - because it’s the truth:


“History slowly repeats itself. The only difference now is that we’re watching it on YouTube.”


We need to understand this. A human rights violation to anyone is a human rights violation to us all. 

Stand by the Uyghur Muslims by actually opening up the conversations about the genocide happening in China. If there are people who are unaware of it, then make them make them aware.

If we keep talking about it, if we are able to keep this issue active in the media and online...we will get answers. And most importantly justice for the Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China.


Here are some informative resources and ways you can help:


Petitions


Impose sanctions on China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300146


Tell China to stop targeting Uyghurs

https://www.amnesty.org/en/get-involved/take-action/tell-china-to-close-its-secret-reeducation-camps-for-ethnic-minorities/


Who are Uyghur Cardd

https://whoareuyghur.carrd.co


Books


The Uyghurs: Strangers In Their Own Land - Gardner Bovingdon 


China’s Forgotten People: Xinjiang, Terror and the Chinese State - Nick Holdstock


Documentaries


BBC - Xinjiang: China, Where Are my Children?


Vice News - Inside China’s Camps


China’s Vanishing Muslims: Undercover in The Most Dystopian Place In The World


101 East - Uighurs: Nowhere to Call Home


#FreedomForUyghurs

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