On August 22, Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) marks the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, a day designated by the UN to promote efforts to eradicate intolerance, discrimination, and violence against people because of their religion or belief. The day was established as a direct response to the ever-growing issue of violence based on religion or belief, including its most severe manifestations, such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.
In the last few years, the world has recognized that what is happening to the Uyghur Muslims meets the legal definition of genocide in Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in East Turkistan (AKA Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed ways to strip religious groups, like the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, of their religious and ethnic identity in so-called ‘re-education camps’ while conducting an active war on faith.
As part of its ongoing attempts to eradicate the Islamic faith and “re-educate” Muslims, Beijing has closed or destroyed mosques, shrines, burial grounds, and other Islamic structures. Approximately 16,000 of the 24,000 mosques in East Turkistan have either been destroyed or converted into bars. The rest have been closed or are only open for touristic or propaganda purposes. The forceful adoption of an Islam that is ‘Chinese-Communist’ friendly, and the arbitrary detainment and murders of imams are other tactics used by the regime against Uyghur Muslims.
CFU has been highlighting what has been happening to Uyghur Muslims with this genocide: subjected to forced labor, Uyghur women being forcibly sterilized, and forced abortions, which has resulted in plummeting birth rates, forced organ harvesting, sexual, physical, and psychological torture. The release of the hacked Xinjiang Police Files (XPF), published by Dr. Adrian Zenz (Senior Fellow and Director in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation), which has shone light to the veracity of the genocide through the images of the concentration camp detainees and the inner workings of the camps in secret documents and slides.
Executive Director Rushan Abbas said “As we mark this important day, we need to remember that ‘Never Again,’ promise has been broken again and again. We must act to not only address the Uyghur genocide through condemnations or boycotts, but take tangible steps to stopping this atrocity, assisting the survivors and ensuring justice and save the future of the free world for our next generations’ sake.”
CFU calls on all religious and faith leaders to play a role in engaging with their communities on the Uyghur genocide and speaking up against this injustice. There must be more investment in the monitoring of acts of violence based on religion or belief in East Turkistan. The international community must analyze the facts coming from the ground and be ready to act upon it with decisive steps that are not influenced by other interests, especially China.