China's targeting of Uighurs and Kazakhs at a UN event highlights rising Islamophobia

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
4 Min Read
China's targeting of Uighurs and Kazakhs at a UN event highlights rising Islamophobia

Human rights activists, diplomats and other intellectuals highlighted growing Islamophobia against Uighur Muslims and Kazakhs in China during an event on the sidelines of the 56th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

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The event was organised by CAP Liberté de Conscience, Campaign for Uyghurs and the Centre for Uyghur Studies.

The conference brought together global experts, civil society leaders and policy makers to strategize on effective measures and promote international cooperation.

Abdul Hakim Idris, a senior member of the World Uyghur Congress, highlighted the dire situation, citing the mass internment of Uyghur Muslims and Kazakhs in alleged torture camps since 2014.

He condemned the Chinese government’s actions, including the destruction of mosques and religious materials and the implementation of Sinicization policies that eliminate Uighur customs.

Abdul Hakim Idris said, “Millions of Uighur Muslims and Kazakhs have been held in torture camps in the name of radicalism. Since 2014, thousands of mosques have been demolished, closed or rebuilt. The Chinese government has burned Qurans and destroyed religious materials. In 2017, the government labelled Islam as a mental illness that must be eradicated under Sinicisation. Uighur customs are forced to conform to Chinese norms, erasing Islamic elements from their architecture.”

Reflecting on historical grievances, WUC Founder and Executive Director Rushan Abbas recalled decades of persecution by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and accused it of genocidal policies under the guise of counter-terrorism action.

He said, “In 1949, the CCP occupied our land, which has rich resources and strategic importance, and began to oppress our people. My people have endured the CCP's genocidal policies in the name of counter-terrorism action.”

Michelle Taylor, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council, strongly condemned the situation in Xinjiang, calling it an international crime, including crimes against humanity.

“Let me be clear from the outset that we strongly condemn the policies in Xinjiang, which the High Commissioner believes may constitute international crimes, including crimes against humanity. The United States has consistently called on the PRC (People's Republic of China) to end human rights abuses in Xinjiang,” she said.

They called for immediate action, the release of arbitrarily detained individuals, a halt to human rights abuses, and an end to discriminatory policies in Xinjiang.

Taylor stressed, “We demand that the PRC release all arbitrarily detained individuals in Xinjiang, cease harassment, surveillance, and intimidation both domestically and abroad, end discrimination based on culture, language, religion, or belief, and end forced assimilation policies. In addition, we demand an end to policies of forced labor, forced marriage, birth control, sterilization, abortion, and family separation in Xinjiang.”

The event highlighted global concerns and calls for justice, and stressed the need to immediately address human rights violations in Xinjiang and ensure the dignity and rights of affected Muslim communities.

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