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Standing with the Uyghur Peoples of China

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Trigger Warning: This blog contains themes of murder, rape, and torture that could be triggering or distressing for some people.

In April of 2021, Kayla Gardner MSYP (Airdrie and Shotts), Ryan Kelly MSYP (Coatbridge and Chryston) and I presented a motion on the widely declared Genocide of the Uyghur population in the North-Western region of Xinjiang in China. We want to see the Uyghur peoples of China being able to live and follow their religious beliefs freely, without fear of being killed or tortured inhumanly. The motion wording was as follows:

‘The Scottish Youth Parliament calls on the UK and Scottish Governments to stand with the Uyghur peoples of China, by taking an active stance against the mass targeted surveillance and genocide to which they have been subjected.’

What’s happening to the Uyghur people?
Here are the facts:

  • Starting in 2019, more than 1 million predominantly Muslim ethnic minority people living in China’s Xinjiang region (including Uyghurs and Kazakhs) are detained in the internment camps due to their identity. [1]
  • These camps appear to be part of the Chinese Government’s plans to wipe out religious beliefs and aspects of cultural identity as well as enforce political loyalty to the state. [1]
  • Reports note that Muslim ethnic groups, both inside and out of camps, have been forced to assimilate by giving up cultural and religious practices including growing an ‘abnormal’ beard, wearing a veil, possessing books about Islam and even their language (all of which breaches multiple human rights). [2]
  • It has been reported that Uyghurs are being subject to random health checks, where biometric data, Blood Type, face scans, fingerprints, DNA etc is all taken. [3]
  • Uyghurs are being used as forced labour and women being forcibly sterilised. [1]
  • Former camp detainees have bravely spoken out on being tortured and sexually abused.

Despite evidence from a wide range of sources, including reports by Amnesty International [1], the Chinese government has consistently denied accusations of wrongdoing, instead claiming that the camps have been designed to offer Chinese language lessons and job support, as well as to combat religious extremism.

Why we need to speak out about this Injustice:

There were several reasons I felt compelled to propose this motion, the first being sharing the same religion as the majority of the Uyghur population. It torments me to see another Muslim being forced to drink alcohol, eat pork and denounce their religion on a daily basis. As a proud Muslim myself, my religion gives me an identity and makes me who I am, so it is horrifying to see Uyghur Muslims have such a fundamental part of their identity stripped from them. We should all have access to basic human rights, which in addition to the rights of security and privacy, include the right to opinion and expression; to thought, conscience, religion, and belief; to participate in cultural life; and to equality and non-discrimination. On top of this, there is evidence of particularly horrific treatment of women Uyghur Muslims who have been raped, tortured, and put through forced sterilisation simply because of their faith and culture [4]. All of this compelled me to act.

What we’re going to do:

Now that our Motion has passed, it gives us the mandate to take a stance and urgently take action on the genocide of the Uyghur people. We plan to speak to ministers in the Scottish and UK Governments and support existing campaigning efforts on the crimes against humanity whilst extending educational efforts on what is actually happening to the wider public – we hope to expand this as much as we can! 

“And one who kills an innocent life, it is as though they have killed all of humankind in its entirety. And one who saves a single life, it is as though they have saved all of humankind in its entirety”. – Qur’an 5:32

What could you do to help? 

  • Research and boycott any company that is complicit in Uyghur forced labour. Do not be complicit in slave labour.
  • Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs. Social Media is a powerful tool. Use the hashtags #UyghurGenocide #UyghurMuslims #FreeUyghur #Xinjiang #Uyghur
  • Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  • Spread awareness amongst friends and family – this is something so simple we can all do. Having a discussion with family educating one another is the bare minimum.
  • Email your MSP/MP and other decision makers!

    “None of us are free until all of us are free”

Where can I find out more?

Who are the Uyghurs and why is China being accused of genocide? (BBC News, June 2021)

China’s hidden camps (BBC, October 2018)

References:

[1]  Tell China to stop targeting Uyghurs | Amnesty International

[2] “Like we were enemies”: China’s Internment, torture and persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang – Amnesty International

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/apr/11/china-hi-tech-war-on-muslim-minority-xinjiang-uighurs-surveillance-face-recognition

[4] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-55794071

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