Ghulam Farooque Kaka || 2 January 2020
Xinjiang is so called an autonomous region of China, located in the far northwest of the country. It is resource-rich territory bordering with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Largely populated with Turkic speaking Muslim ethnic minority groups like Uyghur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Uzbek, Tatar and others. For many decades they are facing religious, social, ethnic, and cultural genocide from Chinese administration.
The recent suppression started when Uyghurs began to resist, normally called ethnic riots of 2009 in Urumqi, and May 2014 attacks that killed 39 people; since then Chinese government has been mass colonizing region. Han Chinese, who were 5% to 9% in the 1950s of the population, are currently 40% to 45% of the region.
China claims that all the inhabitants are migrants in this region, Islam forcefully imposed by the Turks and Arabs, and Xinjiang has always been integral part of China – with reference to old Silk Route.
Today China claims that it is fighting with terrorism, ethnic separatism, and religious extremism – called ‘three evils’ in Xinjiang. Actually, it is trying to eliminate the Islamic identity of the Uyghurs which is different nation from Han Chinese.
By propagating, China wants to tell world that Islam is the cause of trouble in Xinjiang since it was a source of terrorism and extremism. For that, it has opened some vocational education and training centers where extremists were being de-radicalized.
In fact, these all vocational training centers are mass detention and torture centers. These centers are being used to brainwash the Muslims of the region to reject Islam and their identities and become Han Chinese.
Recent 403 leaked official pages published by The New York Times provide a complete real story of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang. It shows that Chinese authorities have lock up as many as a million Muslims into internment camps. Their crimes are praying Nimaz, downloading Quran, watching Islamic videos, reading articles about Islam, wearing hijabs, and preaching Islam to others.
Generally China wants to destroy the religious and ethnic identity of the Muslims minority in country and particularly in Xinjiang by Sinicize the province. Sinicization of Islam is being applied with the help of some selected Islamic religious scholars who teach restricted version of Chinese Islam.
According to the Article 4, 9, and 18 of the Xinjiang Regulation on De-extremification, Islamic teaching, preaching, reading, watching and wearing is a punishable crime with imprisonment or experience de-radicalization process in internment camps.
Muslims of Xinjiang are calling for mercy but no one is ready to hear their voice. Muslim leaders – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Iran, and Pakistan – who claim to be the champion of Muslim Ummah have no dare to openly criticize Chinese brutality just because of Beijing’s power.
Western powers always advocate human rights but if the issue of Muslims comes in their domain, they become selective. The United States administration always supported Taiwan and Hong Kong but when it has opened economic war fronts against China. Now they are openly condemning the human rights violation in Xinjiang.
Canada and EU always criticize unlawful actions of China in the region but no regional and international organizations including OIC and Arab League have ever condemned its actions.
There is new emerging flash of hope for the people of Xinjiang from the platform of Kuala Lumpur Summit, but how long it will sustain the Chinese pressure?…time will decide. Ultimately the call of mercy or no mercy is not the choice of oppressed Muslims of Xinjiang.
Ghulam Farooque Kaka is research scholar at Department of International Relations, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan. He can be reached at [email protected]