Chinese-owned social media site TikTok recently removed a viral video in which a young girl named Feroza Aziz began curling her eyelashes and seconds later urged viewers to seek information on the oppression of Uighur Muslims in China.
TikTok banned Aziz’s video and account but many other young people are feeling compelled to act. Social media sites are increasingly littered with critical posts advocating for the rights of the Uighur Muslims and for international action to be made leading to the closure of the camps.
Within the media and internationally – for example with the Rohingya Muslims – an oppressive, islamophobic or negative narrative is cast on Muslims and Islam. A political climate that supposedly preaches religious freedoms yet remains overtly silent as not to disrupt trade with China as they explicitly carry out the rape, torture and abuse of millions in a situation that is likened by many to the Holocaust.
International condemnation was drawn as to why majority Muslim countries failed to publically speak up in censure or objection of the detention camps. Perhaps Pakistan has remained silent due to China’s help with the new CPEC initiative helping diplomatic relations.
The United States House of Representatives passed a bill against the so-called “re-education” Uighur camps in the north-western region of Xinjiang, China. However, this is not the first instance in which the US have expressed their disdain on the matters. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo previously vilified and blasted the camps for their inhumane measures and the capture of millions of Muslims.
The Uighur Act of 2019 was approved with overwhelming support passing by 407-1 on Tuesday night (Dec 3) in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. The legislation is yet to pass by the Senate or the President and demands the closure of the detention camps and also threatens to impose “targeted sanctions” against Communist Party officials blamed for the abuses. Specifically naming the Communist Party Secretary, Chen Quango, the bill threatens the leader with sanctions naming him responsible for the oppressive policies being carried out in the Xinjiang region.
A notion like this would be significantly marked as the most pressure applied by an international company in condemnation of the mass detention of Uighur Muslims in China. Australia previously condemned the camps and a letter was signed by 22 international countries to the UN calling for sanctions to be imposed on the camp in efforts to halt the genocidal actions.
BBC News states that: “The purpose of the bill is “to address gross violations of universally recognised human rights, including the mass internment of over 1,000,000 Uighurs”. Further accusations are made against China in violating the religious, political and civil rights of Uighurs as well as their freedom of expression, movement and a free trial.
It is thought that those held in the detention centres are forced to disavow their Islamic beliefs, forced to eat pork against their religion and adopt the values of the ruling Communist Party. Those who refuse are punished with beatings, food deprivation or isolation from others. Further alleged policies carried out by China detailed in the recent bill include the collection of DNA samples from children, the use of QR codes to gather information on residents and facial recognition software as well as several other human rights abuses against the Uighurs.
In angry condemnation of the bill, China has called it a “gross interference,” whilst Uighur rights groups happily supported the bill as it passed through the House. China has continued to deny any mistreatment. China is grossly against international or foreign meddling in their affairs with tensions over the bills casting doubt over the possibility of a trade deal between the US and China who have been entangled in a trade war for over a year.
The BBC further reported a statement made by a member of the foreign ministry saying: “the policy in Xinjiang was “about fighting violence, terrorism and separatism”, adding that “thanks to those efforts, Xinjiang hasn’t seen a single terrorist attack over the past three years”.
This comes shortly after Donald Trump signed on a Hong Kong bill suspending visits by US Navy ships and aircraft to Hong Kong which also angered China.
Maintainance of the narrative that the camps are to fight separatism and Islamic terrorism remains. The camps and the number of detainees have immensely grown in size with no legal paperwork being filed to display any construction. However, Chinese government-related documents and personal accounts and statements from Uighurs released from the camps, or with family members being held, have been revealed throughout international media detailing the abuses being carried out in this set-up.
It is far beyond time for international action to be taken, and perhaps this is the first of many steps denouncing the “vocational camps” and seeing their closure and its inhabitants liberated. Justice, freedom of expression and religion are human rights that deserve to be abided by in all instances. After the bills were passed, protestors in Hong Kong expressed their gratitude for America’s support on the matters.
The question begs to be asked: Where is the international condemnation? Why is severe action not being taken to avoid history repeating itself and resulting in the abuse of millions? Has a global powerhouse such as China been able to overtly carry out such an injustice as a result of its economic hold on other countries?