In January 2021, the US became the first country in the world to officially recognize the Human rights violations going on in the Xinjiang part of China against Uighur Muslims as a 'genocide' and 'crime against humanity.' In the same month, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that "after careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since March 2017, the People's Republic of China (PRC), under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is performing mass internment, forced labor, and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province."1 Supporting the claim of Mike Pompeo, newly nominated Secretary of State Tony Blinken said that China is surely committing 'genocide' against Uighur Muslims.2
Moreover, in January 2021, the UK government also publicly criticized China's treatment of Uighur Muslims stating, it as 'barbarism,' and further, considering the treatment of Uighurs as forced laborers, announced new measures to stop the UK companies from trading with Chinese firms.3 Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, while speaking in the House of Commons, said that there was clear evidence of "internment camps, forced labor, arbitrary detention, political re-education, and forced sterilization, all on an industrial scale. It is truly horrific". Thus, considering the same, the article attempts to elucidate the background of the issue. It also mentions the stand of different countries who frequently talk about ongoing human rights issues in different parts of the world but are silent on such grave violation of human rights in China. Furthermore, it also talks about the measures that should be taken to alleviate the hardships faced by Uighurs residing in China.
BACKGROUND OF THE ISSUE
Xinjiang province of China (officially known as 'Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region' (XUAR)) serves as a home for nearly 11 million Uighurs and various other Muslim-ethnic minority groups. Uighurs Muslims are a Turkey-ethnic minority who also see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to other central Asian nations.4 In May 2014, the Chinese government implemented the "Strike Hard Against Violent Terrorism" campaign targeting Uighurs and depriving them of several Human rights. As a result of which, practicing Islam got banned.5 Authorities confiscated religious scriptures, texts, books, including copies of the Quran and prayer mats.6 Moreover, keeping long beards also got banned in the name of 'inciting religious fanaticism.'7 Chinese government demolished most of the mosques and is trying to convert all Uighur Muslims.8 Muslim women also get subjected to forced sterilization and abortions. Moreover, they get forced to marry Han Chinese. Han Chinese is the majority ethnic group of China.9 Further, if Uighur Muslim women refuse to marry Han Chinese, then they get labeled as 'terrorists' and imprisoned.
Moreover, the constitution of 'concentration camps' became one of the root causes that unleashed havoc on Uighur Muslims. In these camps, Uighurs are forced to swear loyalty to Chinese authorities, learn Mandarin, and renounce their religion. Chinese Authorities state this procedure necessary to "cleanse the virus from their brain and restore their normal mind."10
Resistance to Chinese authorities' directions gets punished with solitary confinement, stand for 24-hours, starvation, along with other physical, mental tortures, including sexual assault.11 Thus, such draconian steps to ethnically cleanse the Uighur Muslim community is a sheer violation of Human rights. It is an urgent need to take effective measures not only in theory but in the practical scenario as well to control such barbarianism practiced by Chinese authorities on Uighurs.
STAND OF INDIA ON UIGHUR MUSLIMS ISSUE
Media houses, TV debates, newspaper articles in India often address the issue of Uighur Muslims and keep the Indian masses aware about their ethnic cleansing continuing for decades in Xinjiang. However, it seems the Indian government neither reads newspapers nor has a TV connection to watch the news reports coming out of Xinjiang province as even after decades of persecution of Uighurs, the Indian government always remained silent on this issue. The same India that directed its army to fought war against Pakistan to defend the residents of Bangladesh. Moreover, the same India that during this pandemic time helping various under-developed nations as well as developed nations by providing corona vaccine to save the lives of millions of residents living there. Thus, India who serves as the home of the world's oldest religion, whose roots arise from Humanity, itself seems like betrayed those principles by not raising its voice against the ethnic cleansing going on in Xinjiang.
The Indian government had provided refuge to Uighurs in Kashmir but, neither raising voice against nor supporting this issue of such grave nature at the international level just because that it might make China angry and our eastern borders tensed, doesn't make any sense. India should join multilateral efforts and stand against such human rights violations to help the Uighurs. To date, three statements and letters condemning China have been expressed in the UN.12 The first was in July 2019 that was co-signed by 22 states. The second was in October 2019 that included a coalition of 23 countries. A third, led by Germany in October 2020, noted how 39 states have become "gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang." However, in all three, the most populous country that proud of its humane culture was absent as a signatory. India should not forget the gifts like the Galwan Valley incident, the Doklam issue, the Naku La clash, and COVID-19 that destroyed the economy along with the sudden demise of lakhs of Indians as a result. Indian must give up the principle 'if someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also' and raise its voice against the barbarianism prevalent in China, just not for the sake of revenge, but for helping those persecuted minorities.
UIGHUR ISSUE & MIDDLE EAST
In 1992, when Babri Masjid got demolished to re-establish the Rama Temple, various anti-Hindu riots raged in Pakistan and Bangladesh, leading to the total disruption of law and order.13 Moreover, other Islamic countries like Turkey, Iran, along with Gulf Cooperation Council, raised concern over its demolition. However, these so-called 'protectors of faith' are at arm's length with Uighur Muslims genocide. It is a well-known fact that Pakistan is a hand puppet of China, but silence in middle east nations raises concern. The countries that offered protest against Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, and the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo act as mute spectators on the concentration camps in China.
Many Muslim countries are not raising their voice against China on the Uighurs issue just because they do not want to jeopardize their trade and economic relations.14 Various Islamic and middle east countries also owe a major stake in one of major China's economic project, the Belt and Road Initiative launched in 2013 that links nearly 78 countries of Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania through a network of railroads, shipping lanes, and other infrastructure projects, which they do not want to lose.15 China also provides hefty loans at low interest to countries to whom World Bank and other international banks do not provide loans due to their bad credit ratings. Thus, with its money power, China has almost purchased the Middle East and its organizations.
Moreover, in 2017, Turkey who criticizes India frequently at various International levels on Kashmir Issue, has signed an extradition treaty that might severely affect the Chinese Uighur Muslims who eloped to Turkey to save their family and lives.16 China has recently, in January, ratified the treaty while Turkey has yet to ratify the same. If it gets ratified then turkey has to assist China in "judicial cooperation to facilitate a crackdown on transnational criminals including terrorists." Thus, the Middle East that become too concerned about human rights violations against Muslims if it takes place in any other nation except China must raise this concern in the UN for the protection of Uighurs, as well as support other countries on this issue against China.
In 2021 February, Canadian Parliament also recognized China's oppressive treatment against Uighurs as a 'genocide.'17 Moreover, they also voted to lobby the Olympics Committee to move Olympics if China does not stop genocide. Thus, such steps might play a vital role in encircling China at the international level. We can see that European and Western countries are more vocal in the world than any other nation on this issue. They also frequently discuss it within their nation's Parliament as well as on different international platforms.
Indian should also consider this issue in a similar way as it considers 'violent extremism and terrorism' and regularly draws the attention of the world to it. It should stand in support of Uighur Muslims as Humanity, or Human rights, cannot be put under the carpet just for some presumed future threats or monetary benefits. Similarly, the Muslim organizations that get over-concerned when it comes to discussing issues of Muslim minorities in other nations, such as OIC gone to the extent of saying 'Islamophobia' is on the rise in India,18 should also at least support western nations when they put up this issue at international platforms. They should consider the plight of the members of their religion vis-à-vis their monetary and economic gains that they get from China. Thus, without the support of these nations that are acting as mute spectators of genocide, Uighurs would not be able to get aid and continue to suffer.
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