Two Uyghur leaders comment on the scoop by The New York Times. Will this change the world’s attitude toward China’s crimes, or everything will remain as it is?
by Marco Respinti
“The leaks confirm much of what the international community has strongly suspected for months. They completely discredit China’s narrative that the camps have anything to do with vocational training or benevolence from top officials.” This is how Mr. Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress (based in Munich, Germany), commented on the publication by The New York Times, disclosing 403 pages of documents from inside China’s ruling Communist Party.
Mr. Isa has suffered CCP’s harsh persecution against the Uyghurs whom Beijing falsely describes as indistinct terrorists, while their only guilt is to be believers (Muslim) and non-Han. The leaked documents devise the “final solution” (no casual expression) that the CCP adopted and is implementing against the people of Xinjiang, the region that Uyghurs prefer to call East Turkestan.
Echoing the publication, the international media has focused on a phrase in that mint of information, “absolutely no mercy,” uttered by Xi Jinping, Secretary General of the CCP and President of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), that is to say, the mastermind and the engine of the “final solution” for Uyghurs, during one of the private talks with officials after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, when an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” was launched using the “organs of dictatorship.”
Individuals and regimes have been indicted internationally for far less. But not China, the most powerful country whose money many foreign governments long for or already have in their national wallets.
This is the buzz word that the PRC has learned to use after the American tragedy of 9/11 but has also ideologically twisted it since then to serve as an excuse to crush an entire nation.
Terrorism? Yes, it could be. There may be some violent rioters, some offenders, even some actual terrorists among Uyghurs. There may be and are among all peoples and nations. But the role of a just government is to protect its citizens and maintain social stability, carefully singling out actual terrorists, stopping them, even by using force if necessary and granting peace to the rest of the population. Instead, the goal of an unjust totalitarian government, such as China, is to subdue a whole nation in fear only to justify its continual rhetoric for repression. One should wonder why some Uyghurs, very few among them, may one day have decided to react with violence, even to the extremes of terrorism. Violence (which remains distinct from the legitimate use of force) is always to be blamed, and terrorism has no justification whatsoever. But while remembering that responsibility is invariably personal, the right question is: Who put arms into the hands of terrorists?
The Chinese government is saying that to curb and stop a handful of (would-be?) terrorists, a vast territory must be transformed in an open-air detention facility, and millions and millions of people have to be detained in jails, often to be used as slave laborers for the glory of the economy that is buying half of the world paying cash. Yes, Beijing is seriously saying there is virtue to incarcerate men, women, children, and elders with no serious charge and without trial; to separate parents and children, leaving the latter in the hands of the persecuting state that has destroyed their families; to profile DNA or perform iris scans of virtually everyone, in order to control every single move of people; and to mock and humiliate elders and women. The regime is saying it openly, rebutting The New York Times by way of Mr. Geng Shuang, PRC’s foreign ministry spokesman, who “accused the newspaper of ignoring the true reasons behind and success of what China terms a campaign to end poverty, separatism and religious extremism. He said the fact Xinjiang hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack in three years – about the length of the time the internments have been carried out in earnest – demonstrates the correctness of the policy.” Basically, one should complement and thank Beijing for detaining millions of innocent people.
But the reverse is true. The leaked documents “provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang,” Mr. Isa continues, “in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years. We now know that these brutal policies were conceived and have been orchestrated by top-level officials in the Chinese government. Xi Jinping’s ability to obfuscate and mislead the international community about the nature of the camps continues to be eroded, day by day. The very fact that the leak happened is also critical – it illustrates that some deeply question China’s approach. It’s a hopeful reminder given that so many millions continue to suffer under what feels like the weight of the entire Communist Party.”
Religion and diversity are the enemies
Trying to understand why the CCP hates Uyghurs so much, Bitter Winter has talked to one more leading figure within the Uyghur diaspora, Ms. Rushan Abbas, president of the Campaign for Uyghurs in Herndon, Virginia.
“Everything that makes Uyghurs unique – our language, culture, and religion – makes CCP uncomfortable,” says Ms. Abbas, “as the Han nationalism, bigoted supercilious attitude from the Party leaders and Xi Jinping don’t tolerate Uyghurs’ ethnical uniqueness. Furthermore, Islam, Uyghurs’ religion, was what had kept them from being assimilated. Now the CCP finally realizes that. Therefore, they intend to completely eradicate Islam among Uyghurs, using the pretext of the ‘war on terrorism.’ Our religion poses a threat to the CCP since all original thought and religious beliefs are a danger to the Chinese Communist regime. For China, the communist ideal is brought back to life with Xi Jinping.”
Ms. Abbas thinks that the core problem is the communist ideology and ideocracy. “Communism means stamping out freedom of expression and freedom of thought,” she continues. “It means suppressing freedom of speech and belief. Above all, it means imposing the official state ideology upon everyone and persecuting those who might think or believe differently. This disturbing trend is clearly visible in the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims and in what is happening today in Hong Kong. The persecution of the Uyghurs by the Chinese Communist regime is only one part of a rising tide of intolerance that is rapidly covering the world. Our struggle should be the concern of everyone who values the basic human rights of dignity, respect, and freedom of belief for all people.”
Now, the continuous silence of Muslim countries amid the Uyghurs crises, or even the approval that some give in to the CCP’s repression is bewildering, especially for a non-Muslim. But it is even more puzzling for Muslims. “I am saddened by the inactivity of the Muslim world.” Ms. Abbas comments. “As Muslims, we have a direct stake in what is happening. Where is the unity of Islam today? Where is the brotherhood to save our fellow Muslims from being wiped out? Because of the CCP’s disinformation and false narrative, many leaders from the Muslim majority countries and the Muslim community don’t know what is actually happening. If they really knew the truth of what is going on, if they only heard the desperate implore of the Uyghurs for survival, I sincerely hope that the leaders of the Muslim countries, Muslim brothers and sisters would have been with Uyghurs and taken action.”
Another Munich Pact?
No less incredible is the still too weak response from the UN to the cultural genocide that is going on in Xinjiang. “China is getting away with genocide,” Ms. Abbas’ can’t hold back, and she doesn’t want to. “And not only that, China is getting ‘rewarded’ for its crimes against humanity and cultural genocide with Winter Olympics 2022. Between trade threats, the power of the Belt and Road Initiative, debt-trap diplomacy and manipulation within the UN as the second-largest donor, the PRC has become a power able to strong-arm the world. In Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Turkic world, the Muslim majority countries, Africa, and even some parts of Europe, the Chinese regime is bribing and leveraging key politicians, decision-makers, the media, influential scholars, and prominent businessmen. With that, China has successfully silenced international criticism of its shameful human rights record and is getting away with it.”
Is all lost then? “It depends,” says the Uyghur leader. “The International Olympic Committee must safeguard the core values the Olympics have been built upon. The Olympics is a unique international event. It is not about trade or politics. It’s not about which country has the most power or the most money – it’s about people coming together to celebrate their differences. A country that has banned cultural identity and language, and erected hundreds and thousands of concentration camps to jail an ethnic group because of hatred and racial discrimination, does not respect these values. With over 400 pages of documented evidence, the country conducting today’s largest human rights violations shouldn’t be hosting games that are meant to celebrate our differences in the world and unite us together.”
Not so modest a proposal. Will then the international community’s dignity be up to bear the burden of truth, or shall we sadly see a re-editing of the 1938 Munich Pact, when the West let the rising power of Adolf Hitler to drown Europe in blood and sorrow just looking away?