Persecution of religious minorities in China and Islamic Nations’ selective concern

February 16, 2021 1:13 PM

In Communist China, persecution of religious minorities isn’t a new phenomenon as Beijing considers religion to be an evil as it can mobilise the masses and thus threaten its totalitarian form of governance.

religious minoritiesWhat’s most repulsive is Beijing’s so-called ‘re-education’, which is nothing but a move to not only eradicate Islamic beliefs of the Uyghur community, but also change the political, demographic balance of the region. (File photo: IE)

By Farooq Wani, 

In Communist China, persecution of religious minorities isn’t a new phenomenon as Beijing considers religion to be an evil as it can mobilise the masses and thus threaten its totalitarian form of governance. Be it Tibetan Buddhists, Christians or Uyghur Muslims, all have been systematically subjugated by the Communist Party of China (CPC); however, reliable reports of rampant abuse and inhumane treatment of Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang province of China has shocked the world.

What’s most repulsive is Beijing’s so-called ‘re-education’, which is nothing but a move to not only eradicate Islamic beliefs of the Uyghur community, but also change the political, demographic balance of the region. Just like in Tibet, people of the Han community are being pumped into this region and this eventually led to the 2009 Urumqi riots in which 200 Hans and Uyghurs were killed. Surprisingly, OIC as well as Pakistan and Turkey who claim to be the champions of Islam, have maintained an eerie silence and the reason for this is simple- both prioritize friendly relations with China above safeguarding Islamic beliefs and basic human rights of Uyghur Muslims.

Post 9/11 the CCP strengthened its involvement in multilateral and bilateral counter-terrorism efforts. As a result of these efforts, some Uyghur separatist movements like the ETIM, TIP, ETLO, UREFT, and ULO were labelled as terrorist groups by the United Nations and the US department of State. CCP took this opportunity to not only curb the growing Islamic Radicalization in Xinjiang province but also used it to counter any form of dissent towards PRC and labelled nearly every Uyghur an extremist. On the lines of “Global War on Terror”, Beijing devised its own policy of “Peoples war on Terror” in 2014, which is nothing but institutionalised persecution of Uyghur Muslims.

Xinjiang is the largest province of China, and has a population of around 22 million. Uyghur Muslims are among the 55 officially recognized minority groups and constitute 45% of Xinjiang’s population. Even though Uyghurs’ are the native to Xinjiang province, they are considered foreign invaders and aliens due to their cultural, religious and ethical resemblance to the Central Asian Countries. The forceful annexation of Xinjiang in 1949 led to many uprisings, which over decades led to numerous terrorist attacks on Chinese citizens as was seen during the 2009 Urumqi riots.

Using the excuse of threats from radical Islamic groups, the CCP in 2017, established hundreds of so called “re-education camps” or “vocational education and training centres,” operated by Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Government headed by Chen Quangua, CCP Committee Secretary. In these “re-education camps”, Uyghur detainees are put through ‘formal training’ to make them acquire political, religious and nationalistic beliefs as decreed by CPC. A Uyghur can be placed in these camps for the most trivial and inoffensive reasons, like reciting Namaaz, having an Islamic name, visiting relatives outside China, sporting a long beard or simply believing in Islam.

Uyghur Muslims detained in re-education camps are forced to consume pork, drink alcohol, praise CCP and its Leaders including XI JinPing, march with the Communist flag and denounce each and every belief which is considered a threat by the CCP. As per estimates, nearly three million Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities are being held captive in these so-called re-education camps. In many cases, both parents are placed in re-education camps leaving half a million children without parental care. Such children are shifted to Communist boarding schools where they are subjected to psychological and religious indoctrination.

Though the Uyghur community is being subjected to mass surveillance, forced detention, kidnapping, murders, torture, illegal organ removal and denied basic human rights like following their own religion, Muslim countries have ignored them as if they never existed or that they weren’t being persecuted for following Islamic beliefs.
Neither human rights violation nor the despicable and sacrilegious acts of converting Mosques into public toilet has irritated the Muslim world. While their leaders keep discussing Palestine and Kashmir, they never talk about persecuted Uyghurs of Xinjiang.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan, when questioned in an interview about Uyghur persecution replied “Frankly I don’t know much about it.” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan claims Uyghur live happily in Xinjiang and Malaysia’s ex PM Mahathir Mohamad felt that “China shouldn’t be antagonised as it is beneficial to us”. The blatant hypocrisy of Muslim world, especially the triad of Pakistan, Malaysia and Turkey has been exposed and it is time for the world to realise that these countries have chosen Yuan over Quran!

China’s all weather friend Pakistan has not deemed it right to raise a voice for the Uyghurs. While PM Khan keeps talking about supporting and protecting the Muslims community worldwide, his trumpet loses its sound when it comes to the issue of Uyghur Muslims. Not just the government of Pakistan but also its people, including liberals and the Mullahs are careful not to espouse the Uyghur Muslims cause as none dare to annoy Beijing.

The $ 61 Billion CPEC project and by playing the role of Pakistan’s godfather, Beijing has bought Pakistan’s silence and Islamabad is thus turning a blind eye to Chinese wrongdoings, be it its citizens/army personal getting physically assaulted by Chinese CPEC labourers or its high-ranking Generals/politicians getting caught in Corrupt CPEC deals. By its silence, Pakistan has given tacit approval to persecution of Uyghurs and thus become a passive accomplice of China.

Deep down, Pakistan largely remains a deeply fractured sectarian society with little or no tolerance for pluralism, as is evident from Punjabis dominating Balochis.

Unlike India who chose to be neutral during the cold war era, Pakistan had clear intent of siding with the West and simultaneously increasing its clout in the Islamic world. This foreign policy of opportunism came handy during the Soviet-Afghan war where Pakistan played the vital role of a middleman between the cash rich West and ideologically fundamentalist Middle East.

(The author is Editor Brighter Kashmir, Columnist, and Political Analyst. Can be reached at farooqwani61@yahoo.co.in. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)

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