Thousands Rally Worldwide to Protest China’s Treatment of Uighurs

Human rights groups have accused Beijing of trying to erase the Uighur culture, language and tradition.

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Thousands of people took to the streets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Jordan to protest the persecution of Uighur Muslims in Chinese 're-education' camps, amid growing calls for action.

In Malaysia, demonstrations took place even as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad vowed not extradite Uighurs who seek refuge in his country, but added that his government would not interfere in China’s internal affairs.

“The issues of oppression against Islam worldwide, including the Uighurs, exist and must be acknowledged by all parties. If Uighurs are fleeing to Malaysia to seek asylum, Malaysia will not extradite them even if there is an application from China.”
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysian Prime Minister

In Indonesia too, protesters staged demonstrations criticising China’s treatment of Uighurs. The protests intensified after President Joko Widodo’s chief of staff, former General Moeldoko said that Indonesia would not interfere in China’s internal affairs regarding the detention of Uighurs.

“Each country has its own sovereignty to regulate its citizens. The Indonesian government won’t interfere in the domestic affairs of China.”
General Moeldoko, Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s Chief of Staff

Indonesia’s two largest Muslim organisations – Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah – have called on China to end human rights violations against the Uighurs. Human rights groups have also accused Beijing of trying to erase the Uighur culture, language and tradition.

With placards reading ‘Save the Uighur Muslims’ and ‘Where are the human rights of the Uighurs?’, scores of protestors rallied outside the Chinese embassy in Amman, Jordan. The protest was organised by the Islamic Action Front party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

“Fighting terrorism does not entail changing an entire nation’s religion, changing the entire people’s religion or turning an entire people into one big prison for the Uighur people. This protest is in rejection of the Chinese measures taken against the Muslim Uighur people and rejects the terrorist practices against these people.”
Murad al-Adayleh, Secretary General of the Islamic Action Front Party

Human rights organisations say that up to one million ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang have been detained in camps where they are subjected to political indoctrination and are pressured to give up their religion.

China describes the sites as vocational training centres necessary to fight radicalism in the restive province, and says the trainees work voluntarily.

In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched what he called a "People's War on Terror" after bombs set off by Uighur militants tore through a train station in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, just hours after he concluded his first state visit there.

Voluntary job training is the reason given by the Chinese government for detaining more than a million ethnic minorities, most of them Muslims. But a classified blueprint leaked to a consortium of news organisations shows that the camps are precisely what former detainees termed them them to be – Forced ideological and behavioral re-education centers run in secret.

The classified documents lay out the Chinese government's deliberate strategy to lock-up ethnic minorities even before they commit a crime, to rewire their thoughts and the language they speak.

(With inputs from AP)

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