Uyghur and Tibetan exiles, Hong Kong students and their supporters gathered in their hundreds in front of the Chinese Embassy in London to denounce the CCP.
by Ruth Ingram
Last weekend, London witnessed a large demonstration protesting human rights violations in China. Key figures from religious groups and prominent human rights activists addressed in front of the Chinese Embassy the largely black-masked crowd, many of whom were Hong Kong students risking their futures by taking part, and exiles whose relatives and friends at home could face dire consequences were their identities revealed.
Under an unusually bright blue winter sky, London was one of three cities around the UK staging the protests on Sunday where Jews united with Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and those of no faith at all, in their condemnation of the CCP, and called for measures to stop the barbarity of Xi Jinping’s government.
Waving national flags of East Turkestan (as Uyghurs call their homeland in Xinjiang), Hong Kong and Tibet, together with the uniquely designed Lennon flag of the Hong Kong protesters, many under yellow umbrellas, they gravitated towards their own groups, but a single tyrannical source united them. Their heart cry was one in demanding an end to CCP brutality.
Benedict Rogers, founder of Hong Kong Watch, and former resident of the island, warned the crowd that the current atrocities on the mainland were the most draconian since Chairman Mao. He urged those living in freedom to speak up for those bullied into silence. Reiterating the conclusion of the 2019 London tribunal against organ harvesting in China, he reminded those doing any form of business with China, that they were “doing so with a criminal state.”
Sheldon Stone, speaking on behalf of the Jewish community in the shadow of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, to be commemorated next week, urged the world to speak up for the persecuted. “Too few people spoke out for us,” he said, “but let it not be too late for the Uyghurs.”
Quoting Hillel the first century Jewish sage, he asked the 600 strong crowd. “If I am only for me, then what am I?” ‘The plight of the Uyghurs has been registered by the Jewish community,” he continued, “Their experience mirrors ours. We must do something.’
He inveighed the crowd to lobby the Prime Minister and parliament and demand a Uyghur Act. He pressed them to launch a boycott of Chinese products, to sign every petition and to campaign against the China Winter Olympic Games. Citing tyrants which had come and gone and finally perished, he said the future of China was in their hands. “How long China survives is up to us.’
London based Imam, Ajmal Masroor said that he held nothing against the Chinese people, but that the only way to defeat oppression was to unite against the oppressor. “Beijing may be able to suppress a few Uyghurs, but not the millions of people who support Uyghurs around the world,” he said.
Renowned activist for the human rights of the homosexual community, Peter Tatchell, condemned the hypocrisy of Beijing in claiming to be Communist whilst being “one of the most unequal states on earth.” He pointed out that the CCP was a “privileged minority lauding it over its poor,” whose days were numbered. At the very least he urged, the UK should roll out sanctions on China’s leaders and international arrest warrants should be issued. “One day they should end up in the dock,” he urged.
Father Dominic Robinson, representing the Roman Catholic diocese of Westminster, called for true humanity from China. “Violence, repression and violation of rights are totally unacceptable today and are never the answer.”
Dalha Tsering speaking on behalf of the Tibetan UK Community, said that despite 60 years of oppression from Beijing, Tibetans were not only still alive, he celebrated, but “going from strength to strength.’ But he warned the world not to allow Uyghurs and Hong Kong to “go down” like Tibet. It must speak up before it is too late.
Simon Cheng, former British Embassy worker in Hong Kong detained last year on spurious charges while on a visit to the mainland, received a rapturous reception from the crowd for his campaigning work on behalf of Hong Kong. Through his tears, he spoke of brothers and sisters who have gone missing and the daily struggle to stand up to a tyrannical regime. He blamed “the tyrant” who is causing the violence and “not the people.” “We love that beautiful city and we will keep fighting there,” he proclaimed, despite the vulnerability of the one nation two systems policy which was dependent on “the mercy of Beijing.”
He attributed the recent victory in Taiwan for the Democratic Progressive Party to the Hong Kong protesters. “We saved democracy in Taiwan,” he cried emotionally. “We must continue with our own struggle. We have nothing to lose.”
Rahime Mahmut, draped in the East Turkestan flag, addressing the crowd on behalf of the World Uyghur Congress, was moved by the support of the protesters during this,
“the darkest period of Uyghur history.” Having lost contact with her family in Xinjiang two years ago after they told her to stop calling, she has no idea whether they are alive or dead. “There are too many atrocities and unbearable pain. How do I survive?” She asked rhetorically. “Hope is in people,” she said, “and we must stand together. We must make our demands with one voice,” she stressed.
She said her best new year’s gift this year was a phone call from an 18 years old student called Jack, of the newly formed “One World Movement” who wanted to stage a protest with fellow students and friends on behalf of the Uyghurs. He asked for her help and this event was born. “There is hope if an 18 years old student wants to start a campaign,” she said. “It is something like this that keeps me going.”