Rights group organises virtual discussion to highlight China’s atrocities on Uyghur community

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Washington, DC [US], March 07: The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), organized a virtual discussion to highlight mass arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, mass surveillance, cultural and religious persecution, separation of families, forced labor, sexual violence, and violations of reproductive rights of Uyghurs in China.
The discussion held on Wednesday witnessed the participation of several experts and representatives of social rights organizations from around the world like, Abduweli Ayup, Hena Zuberi, and Elfidar Iltebir, who spoke at length about the issues faced by the women belonging to the Uyghur ethnic minority.
Observed on the sidelines of International Women’s Day the discussion ‘Atrocities Against Women in East Turkistan: Uyghur Women and Religious Persecution’ discussed the various ways of strategic persecution used by China.
The virtual discussion was based upon a recent report published by the UHRP named ‘Twenty Years for Learning the Quran: Uyghur Women and Religious Persecution’ which highlighted the ongoing atrocities against Uyghur and other Turkic women in East Turkistan.
Quoting the report of UHRP, Henryk Szadziewski the Director of Research at the Uyghur Human Rights Project stated, “20 years for learning the Quran, Uyghur Women and Religious Persecution presents compelling evidence of the systematic oppression faced by Uyghur women, revealing a stark picture of abuses based on religion. However, it also breaks new ground in concluding that Uyghur and other Turkic women face multiple forms of discrimination and are subject to horrific human rights abuses based on their ethnic identity and gender.”
When asked about the Uyghur society and the overall atrocities faced by the ethnic minorities in China and its territories, Abduweli Ayup, a writer, journalist, and linguistic expert specializing in Uyghur language education, stated, “Since 2019, I started to document Uyghur religious scholars arrested in China, we call them Imams. At that time, we documented about 630 Imams got arrested. And we were able to document them easily because half of them worked for government agencies.”
He added, “We have Islamic Associations on every level in other countries. So, these persecuted Imams were documented because they have names in the records. When we talked about 2020, some scholars mentioned how Uyghur women were targeted and what happened to them. It was challenging because there is no such organization as the Xinjiang Islamic Association or Chinese Islamic Association. They (China) don’t see Uyghur religious community leaders as leaders, members, or staff.”
Elfidar Iltebir, the President of the Uyghur American Association (UAA), who immigrated to the US in 2000 from East Turkistan highlighted the broader context of the Chinese government’s violations that are targeted at Uyghur women.
In her statement stated, “Starting in 2005, China was specifically transferring young married women to inner China. The purpose is to keep the young generation away from their homeland, to send them to work in the factories, to stop them from giving birth and to keep them away from their homeland and their kids.”
She further stated, “As you know, when genocide started, these numbers increased previously it was 1.6 million, but the recent report says it has increased in 2023 by 38 per cent. So we’re talking about millions. When you keep the parents away, the kids are raised in state-run orphanages, away from their familial bonds. So it means they’re away from their culture, their religion, their identity and their world. And they’re raised as a loyal Sisyphus subject. We were looking as Han Chinese kids”.
Further, during the virtual discussion Hena Zuberi the Director of Justice for All, mentioned that she met a Quran teacher, the first Uyghur woman in Los Angeles and she described the story of Uyghur religious repression in China.
“She told me that she was not allowed to learn about Islam in her village because her parents were scared that she would be taken away from them if authorities found out. This repression has been going on for years,” said Zuberi.
Zuberi further divulged that the girl remembered her parents whispering in the middle of the night in their room, probably praying in secret during Ramadan. And then she finally learned Islam from meeting other Muslims at Beijing universities, from other countries.
She also mentioned, “China, projects this image of being very close to Muslim countries. And so you’ll see Muslims in major cities in China being able to go to the mosque and pray and do all of that. And so people don’t believe that this kind of religious repression is taking place in East Turkestan. Over the past few years, there have been, reports from human rights organizations, and testimonies from Uyghurs, many of whom I have interviewed and sat with myself. And satellite imagery has exposed a grim situation of mass detention camps.”
“And as Iltebir talked about forced labour, forced sterilization and cultural repression targeting Uyghurs, this is considered a crime against humanity and genocide by the US government. But the unique nature of oppression against Uyghur women by the government of China, because of their ethnicity and religion is also, enhanced by their gender vulnerability as women. So, you know, there’s the experience of being enslaved or raped, in an organized, systematic way, sold into sexual slavery, forced marriages, or separated from your children. This impact on your religious life is astronomical because, so it’s not only that the genocide is causing the religious repression, the religious repression is also causing the genocide,” she added.

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