Australian Imams Call Out Beijing’s Oppression of the Uyghur People

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Australian Imams

The Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) released a statement last Friday, calling out the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) decades-long persecution of the Uyghur people in their homelands, which has only been intensifying over recent years.

The Uyghurs are a Central Asian Turkic people who live in East Turkestan, which has been occupied by the CCP since 1949, when Chairman Mao’s troops marched on Urumqi, the capital of the region, which is now referred to as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

The council of Australian Muslim leaders outlined on 29 July that the oppression of the Muslims of East Turkestan, which includes other minorities, such as Kazakh and Kyrghyz people, is due to Beijing’s desire for them to assimilate into the broader Chinese culture and to renounce Islam.

The Australian imams point out that the last five years have seen this process incorporate “genocidal acts”, which most prominently has included a network of internment camps where over a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been incarcerated without charge or trial.

“This is the largest scale detention of an ethnic minority since World War II,” the ANIC statement makes clear. “We must not remain silent on this horrific abuse.”

Stop the Uyghur genocide

President of the World Uyghur Congress Dolkun Isa told Sydney Criminal Lawyers in early 2017 that a recent all-out offensive launched on the Uyghur people living in Xinjiang was being overseen by recently appointed province CCP secretary Chen Quanguo.

Chen had recently implemented a series of surveillance measures, which included an all-pervasive grid-style network of police stations in East Turkestan.

The CCP secretary was well-versed in the efficacy of such monitoring systems as he’d been applying them whilst administering occupied Tibet for the five years prior to taking control in Xinjiang.

The crackdown in the Uyghur homelands has had a focus on stamping out Muslim practices, which has included the destruction of over 8,000 mosques, bans on wearing long beards and head coverings, along with a prohibition on naming children specific Muslim names.

In mid-2018, Isa outlined that in April the year prior, the CCP had begun establishing a series of political indoctrination camps, where up to a million Uyghurs were at that point being arbitrarily and indefinitely detained.

While the independent Uyghur Tribunal ruled in last December that the treatment of the Muslim peoples in East Turkestan constitutes genocide and crimes against humanity, in terms of forced sterilisations, arbitrary detention and the use of rape and other sexual violence.

Supporting the cause

According to the ANIC, millions of Uyghurs have endured “forced labour, torture, indoctrination, forced sterilisation and many more horrific abuses at the hands of the CCP. Mosques have been destroyed, the call to prayer is banned and any religious activity is outlawed.”

“We must demand justice for our brothers and sisters,” the statement further reads, and goes on to suggest that individuals should spread the word about the plight of the Uyghurs, along with financially supporting refugees from the region and join the campaign to end this oppression.

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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