China gets cornered on Xinjiang, deploys imams for defence

New DelhiEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: May 14, 2021, 12:22 PM IST
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(File photo) Chinese President Xi Jinping Photograph:(AFP)

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It may take more than a set of well-trained CCP Imams for China to scrub this genocide from the conscience of the world

China does not like to be spoken about unless the words are praises. Criticisms attract the dragon's wrath and a mention of Xinjiang, fire. If anyone asks for access to Xinjiang, Chinese Imams lie through their teeth.

"Today's Xinjiang enjoys economic development and social stability, and people live in harmony. And we Muslims live a very happy life too. We are grateful to the party and government from the bottom of our heart," says Mamat Juma, Imam of Id Kah mosque.

Let's rewind a little.

On the 12th of May, there was a virtual meeting on the situation in Xinjiang. It was organised by Germany, the US, and the UK. It was co-sponsored by Canada, Australia, New Zealand among others.

China had tried to stall this meeting. Beijing lobbied against it, asked UN members to stay away. It text-messaged UN ambassadors from 15 western nations, asking them to 'think twice'.

But nothing worked and the virtual event was held. It was attended by 51 countries.

"In Xinjiang, people are being tortured. Women are being forcibly sterilized. Many Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities – who only wish to practice basic freedom of religion, belief, expression, and movement – are being forced to work until they drop," said Linda Thomas-Greenfield during the event. She is USA's ambassador to the UN.

"This is a wider situation, probably one of the worst human rights crises of our time," said Barbara Woodward, UK ambassador to the UN.

"Now the Chinese government claims that this is about fighting terrorism, but frankly Beijing doesn't even pretend that this is a targeted effort. This sweeping broad-based persecution is a blatant attack on Islam and on Uyghur culture. Terrorism is a feeble pretext," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Speaker after speaker rebuked China. Some even took on the UN Human Rights Commission for not doing enough. UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet was called out for not joining the event.

"Do not let China's portrayal of critics define your motivation," said Agnes Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty international.

One country that saw nothing wrong with what was happening in Xinjiang was China.

"Xinjiang is a beautiful, peaceful and prosperous place. Your attempt of using Xinjiang to contain China is doomed to fail," said Guo Jiakun, counsellor, Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations.

'Xinjiang is peaceful' was his version of the truth. By the end of the event, China was battered with criticism. 

The consensus was loud and clear. An immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang.

Cut to the day after.

An event marking the end of Ramzan was organised in Beijing. It was well-orchestrated. Invites were sent out to foreign diplomats. The doors were opened to the press and cameras. And then Beijing paraded some very well-trained Muslim clerics. Each parroting the lines of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

"The anti-China forces in the US and western countries have shown unusual interest to Muslims in Xinjiang," said Abdureqip Tomurniyaz, president of the Islam Association of Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region.

"Cracking down on religious extremism is to better protect legal religion," said Mamat Juma, Imam of Id Kah mosque.

Over a million Uyghur Muslims have been put in China's concentration camps. Reports say that many have died. Many have been raped, forcefully sterilised. China's minorities are disappearing.

And it may take more than a set of well-trained CCP Imams for China to scrub this genocide from the conscience of the world.

From where we stand, China has been cornered on Xinjiang. And sooner rather than later, it will be made to pay.