Xinjiang suppression continues to attract global attention as China’s participation in Queen’s funeral opposed

The allegations of brutal suppression in minority Muslim-dominated Xinjiang continue to stay in news despite China taking every measure to deny them. Yet again, the issue came to the limelight after a group of UK lawmakers objected to the invitation to Chinese government leaders to attend the state funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II. A week ago, United Nations Human Rights Office (UNHCR) released a report on the Xinjiang region, reporting widespread repression of minority Turkic Muslims by the Beijing government. The report concluded that “serious human rights violations have been committed” in Xinjiang. Protests in support of Uyghur Muslims are held by human rights activists across the world regularly. Even Uyghurs living outside China are trying to keep the flame alive. All of this suggests that the Xinjiang issue will continue to feature in global discussions.

In the letter to the country’s Foreign Secretary, the UK lawmakers raised concerns over the invitation to the “architects” of genocide against the Uyghur minority. They said the decision was “extraordinary” since the UK Parliament had voted to recognise the “genocide committed by the Chinese government.”[1] The UK has already banned Chinese officials from visiting the Queen’s body lying in state at Westminster Hall in London. Now calls are made for withdrawing the invitation to the Beijing government. “Inviting the Chinese government is an insult to the memory of the Queen and should be rescinded immediately, “Tim Loughton, an MP from the ruling Conservative Party.[2]The growing opposition to China’s participation in the funeral comes as a humiliation for China.[3]

The Xi Jinping-led communist government in China has been facing criticism for state-sponsored arbitrary and discriminatory detentions, enforced disappearances, forced labour, forced sterilisation of women, sexual violence, intimidation and mass surveillance.[4] Global activists and leaders of many western countries have expressed their concerns over the repressive governance in Xinjiang.  Protests are regularly held in the UK, US, Germany and other countries, seeking action against Beijing. Even calls were made to boycott Beijing Olympics and Chinese goods.

The US, UK, Canada, Japan, and Australia had diplomatically boycotted the Beijing Olympics. The US has banned Chinese cotton that is suspected to be produced using forced labour in Xinjiang. Now the European Union (EU) has proposed a ban on all Chinese goods made using forced labour, expressing concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang.[5] Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Henrike Hahn, the German representative to the European Parliament, said “We are not like-minded friends of the totalitarian regime in China. We demand a ban on imports of products from Chinese forced labour and on products from Chinese companies in general produced with forced labour.”         

The UNHCR report on Xinjiang was released despite the resistance from its chief Michelle Bachelet, who did not want to alienate China.[6] Confirming the reports of government excesses in Xinjiang, the report sought “adequate remedy and reparation to victims” of human rights Violations. I appealed to the international community to support efforts “to strengthen the protection and promotion of human rights in Xinjiang.[7] China rejected the report, which however brought the repression in Xinjiang into the limelight again. The report fell short of just calling it genocide in Xinjiang. Last month, the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery Tomoya Obokata said it was “reasonable to conclude that forced labour among Uyghur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing has been occurring” in Xinjiang.

Despite China denying the charges of human right violations, which often comes in the form of threats, there have been sustained efforts by the Uyghur and Kazakh communities  to express their plight to the world.

Relatives of victims, who live outside China, often hold protests outside Chinese embassies, seeking justice. Chinese-born ethnic Kazakh Bekzat Maxutkanuly is just a small merchant. But he decided to start a political party for the cause of oppressed people in Xinjiang.[8]An Uyghur author named Perhat Tursun is going to publish the first Uyghur English novel based on one man’s struggle in the authoritarian atmosphere of Xinjiang.[9] So despite China trying to hide, suppress or play down what happening in Xinjiang, the political pressure, activism and struggle of Uyghurs will keep the issue alive.

News Desk

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