A Uyghur group protesting Chinese treatment of minority religious populations is calling on President Joe Biden to act upon the Trump administration’s “genocide” designation against China. The East Turkistan National Awakening Movement is urging Biden to introduce a declaration at the UN Security Council and prosecute China’s diplomats in the U.S.
Uyghurs, or Uighurs, are an ancient ethnic minority in western China with studies showing a 50 percent DNA connection to Europeans. In recent years, China’s communist regime ramped up its war against religious minorities targeting both Muslims and Christians. During four years in office, the Trump administration was emphatic in its support of these Chinese minorities.
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As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left office on Jan. 19, 2021, he stated that the Chinese Communist Party was guilty of “arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.” The administration then officially called it genocide–a marker that sets it apart as a well-organized and systemic elimination of a people’s group.
The demand comes as numerous Uyghur women have been interviewed on Western media reporting torture, systematic rape, and sexual abuse in China’s secretive system of internment camps in the Xinjiang region.
Since 2018, the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement has been actively campaigning for the U.S. and other countries to designate China’s atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples as genocide.
Twenty-four years ago, in February 1997, hundreds of largely Uyghur Muslim residents gathered in the town of Ghulja in the Ili district in Chinese-occupied East Turkistan to peacefully protest the recent execution of 30 Uyghur activists by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the continued restrictions against their traditional way of life.
On the morning of Feb. 5, as peaceful marches continued, armed Chinese security officials descended on Ghulja, arresting thousands of peaceful civilians, subjecting them to humiliating mistreatment; many were disfigured or lost limbs due to frostbite, others lost their lives.
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Protests and riots followed, which were met with a brutal crackdown by Chinese authorities. Reports from the region claim hundreds of Uyghurs lost their lives in the ensuing violence.
The violence and deprivations against the Uyghurs have continued over the years, reaching a climax in 2014. The BBC reports that human rights groups say China’s communist regime’s policy comes from President Xi Jinping. After a terror attack in 2014, Xi visited Xinjiang. According to documents leaked to the New York Times, he directed local officials to respond with “absolutely no mercy.”
Responding to the Trump administration and Pompeo, Xu Guixiang, a spokesperson for Xinjiang’s Communist Party said on Feb. 1, “Why is he putting on such a show, such a farce, telling the lie of the century?” Xu said. “He wants to plant land mines and set up obstacles to dialogue with the next U.S. administration.”
Newly confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken also has publicly expressed his agreement with the Trump administration’s determination that China’s treatment of its Uyghur and Turkic peoples was genocide.
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One woman, a former detainee in one of the camps for 18 months, told the BBC that Chinese men would pay money to have their pick of the prettiest young inmates. She was forced to strip Uighur women naked and handcuff them, before leaving them alone with Chinese men.
Asked if there was a system of organized rape, she said: “Yes, rape.”
“They’re forcing Uyghurs and others to denounce their religious practices and they’ve been forcing Uyghurs to go through or adopt a non-traditional, non-religious way of life which is much more common for the ruling Hun Chinese people,” said Nury Turkel, a commissioner with the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Religious freedom advocates say the plight of Uyghur Muslims in China is something that should concern all people of faith.
“Since the crisis came to surface, we’ve been receiving an enormous amount of support from the Christian communities, Jewish communities; but what is lacking is the other faith groups. They also should speak out. No one should be persecuted for their religious practices. It’s a God-given right. People should be able to practice and it’s a matter of privacy and government should have no business in people’s privacy when they’re worshipping and when they’re praying,” concludes Turkel.
–Dwight Widaman and CBN