The CCP persecutes people of faith regardless of their ethnicity, the public enemy no. 1 being religion per se.
by Martyna Kokotkiewicz
The multi-ethnic nature of Chinese persecution needs to be exposed. The aim here is to emphasize that the CCP’s war against religion is systematic, and is not bound to ethnicities per se. Most of the victims who are ethnic Kazakhs or Kyrgyz, and also some Uyghurs, have relatives in countries like Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan. Therefore, with some good will and diplomatic action there would be a chance to save them.
It is devastating to see the long list of Kazakh victims, including religious leaders, to be found in the Xinjiang Victims Database. We should be aware of the fact that it is growing all the time. Sadly, this list includes victims for whom we can do nothing anymore.
Nurgazy Malik, an ethnic Kazakh, was a well-known and respected imam from the Urumqi county. In addition to serving as an imam he was also a writer and the editor-in-chief of a religious magazine. This places him among the most prominent and influential figures of the religious and cultural life of the region.
Moreover, it is beyond any doubt that he belonged to the group of so-called state-approved religious scholars, having graduated from Xinjiang Islamic Institute in 1998, and even maintained a good relationship with the CCP. Despite all this, he was detained in 2017 and taken to a camp, joining the group of persecuted religious scholars. He never came back, leaving behind a wife and two children. His death was officially confirmed in 2019. However, the direct cause of his death remains unknown.
While Kazakh people have been dying, something that could be called KAZ-CCP friendship has been flourishing. The issue is sensitive and there will be no easy solutions here. There has been some progress as desperate relatives of some victims started to protest openly in Kazakhstan. While this is a positive change on the one hand, on the other hand it proves how serious the situation is.
Among the victims of the Chinese regime there are also Kyrgyz people to be found. Abdutalyp Samiy from Akchi, a Kyrgyz imam, is one of them. Detained in 2016, he is said to have been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Since that time, his location has been unknown. As shocking as it may seem, he had managed to work as an imam for only three years before his detention. It is clear that it is extremely easy to become a criminal in the eyes of the CCP. You don’t need to spend half of your life at an Islamic university to spend half of your life in prison. These are, apart from being tragic, probably the most grotesque features of the regime.
Although there are relatively few documented cases of Kyrgyz victims, greater involvement could be expected from the Government of Kyrgyzstan. There are few more artificial borders than the one dividing Kyrgyz tribes from a state called Kyrgyzstan and those from a state called China. Analyzing the situation from such a point of view, one may conclude the whole nation, from both sides of the border, constitutes a collective victim. This is not, though, reflected in governmental actions. The list of grotesque phenomena is growing.
Although still not officially confirmed, it is highly probable the story of Ehmed Sherazi, a Uyghur from Kumul, will follow that of Nurgazy Malik. He would have been over 70 now, however, according to some sources, he died in detention as long ago as 2019.
Ehmed Sherazi was taken to a camp in 2017 and the reason can easily be anticipated: he represented the most respected religious leaders of his region. Again, it is proof that the CCP has been targeting first and foremost such personalities, whose disappearance/death would have the most destructive influence both on the nation in their homeland and on the diaspora.
In the case of religious leaders, the issue is particularly sensitive, because these are the spiritual pillars of the nation whose support would be sought in difficult times, and we are indeed dealing with difficult times here. This highlights another grotesque feature of the CCP’s policy that will serve well as a conclusion for this article: the atheistic party that have continually been trying to swipe all traces of religion from the cultural environment, is actually afraid of its uniting power. This is an important message, in particular to the diaspora: the sense of unity and spiritual strength are the only weapons which can win this war.