Weekly News Brief on Uighurs and China – July 22


Xinjiang’s Uyghurs didn’t choose to be Muslim, new Chinese report says

In a white paper released on July 21, the Chinese State Council Information Office painted Xinjiang as a religiously diverse community where a number of faiths had co-existed for centuries. The 6,800-word document, released in full by state news agency Xinhua, said that Xinjiang “respects citizens’ freedom to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion.” However, it also said Islam was introduced to region by force during a religious war in the 10th century, which ended Buddhism’s centuries of dominance. “The Uyghur conversion to Islam was not a voluntary choice made by the common people, but a result of religious wars and imposition by the ruling class,” the report said. “Islam is neither an indigenous nor the sole belief system of the Uyghur people,” it added.

China is officially an atheist country, although around 18% of the country’s citizens identify as Buddhist, 5% Christians and under 2% Muslim, according to the CIA Factbook. The paper said the region’s history had been distorted by “hostile foreign forces and separatist, religious extremist and terrorist forces.” It also took aim at the notion Uighurs were descended from Turks. “Xinjiang has long been an inseparable part of Chinese territory; never has it been the so-called East Turkistan,” the paper stated.

Read the full story at CNN.com, July 22, 2019

22 countries signed letter calling on China to close Xinjiang Uighur camps

22 countries have issued a joint statement condemning China’s mass detention of Uighur and other minorities in the country’s Xinjiang region. 

In a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, the group of 22 nations urged China to end its “mass arbitrary detentions and related violations” and called on Beijing to allow UN experts to access the region. The letter marks the first major collective international challenge to China’s ongoing policy in the far western border region, where experts estimate up to 2 million people have been detained in vast re-education style camps.

“The joint statement is important not only for Xinjiang’s population, but for people around the world who depend on the UN’s leading rights body to hold even the most powerful countries to account,” said John Fisher, Geneva director at Human Rights Watch.

Read the full story at CNN.com, July 11, 2019


37 countries joined China in defending its cultural genocide of Uighurs.


Four days after 22 mostly Western ambassadors joined in a letter expressing concern about China’s mass detentions in the Xinjiang region at a U.N. Human Rights Council session, countries recruited by Beijing delivered their own letter to the council, signed by 37 ambassadors, which endorsed what it whitewashed as a “counter-terrorism and de-radicalization” operation and claimed that “the fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded.” 


The signatories included the usual global rogue’s gallery, Cuba, Russia, North Korea, Venezuela. But a dozen Muslim governments also joined in, thereby sanctioning one of the largest assaults on Islam in modern times. The statement represents a shameful capitulation by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and other majority-Muslim states that frequently pose as defenders of the faith. And it offers an augur of what international affairs will look like if the Chinese regime of Xi Jinping realizes its global ambitions: a world where most states meekly submit to Beijing’s dictates and endorse its crimes.


Read the full story at washingtonpost.com, July 20, 2019


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: China’s treatment of Uyghurs ‘stain of the century’


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 18 called China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority the “stain of the century” and accused Beijing of pressuring countries not to attend a US-hosted conference on religious freedom.


“China is home to one of the worst human rights crises of our time; it is truly the stain of the century,” Mr Pompeo told the final day of the international conference in Washington. He said Chinese government officials had sought to discourage countries from attending the three-day event he has hosted. “Is that consistent with the guarantee of religious belief that is found directly in the Chinese constitution?” he asked.


Read the full story at theguardian.com, July 18, 2019


China’s economy grows at slowest pace since 1990s


China’s economy grew at its slowest pace since the early 1990s in the second quarter, official figures showed. In the three months to June, the economy grew 6.2% from a year earlier. The result was in line with forecasts. China has moved to stimulate its economy this year by boosting spending and delivering tax cuts. The country is also fighting a trade war with the US which has hurt businesses and weighed on growth.


The data released on Monday showed China’s economic growth rate slowed from 6.4% in the first three months of the year. US President Donald Trump tweeted that US trade tariffs were having “a major effect” on the Chinese economy. 


Read the full story at BBC.com, July 15, 2019


Trump Meets Jailed Uighur Professor Ilham Tohti’s Daughter


U.S. President Donald Trump met with more than two dozen survivors of religious persecution on Wednesday. Among those Trump met on Wednesday was Jewher Tohti, the daughter of jailed Uyghur professor Ilham Tohti, who regularly highlighted the religious and cultural persecution of Uyghurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (occupied East Turkistan), but was charged with promoting ethnic separatism and handed a life sentence by a Chinese court on Sept. 23, 2014 following a two-day trial. 


Jewher Tohti told the president about the region’s network of internment camps, where authorities are believed to have detained up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017. She said she has no idea how much longer her father will remain in prison. “I haven’t heard about him since 2017, because that’s when the concentration camps started,” she said.


Read the full story at RFA.org, July 18, 2019


Australia requests Beijing let family of Uyghur man leave China


The Australian embassy in Beijing has formally asked China to allow an Australian toddler and his mother to leave the country. Sadam Abudusalamu, a Uyghur Australian man, spoke out against the widespread persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s far-western Xinjiang region on the ABC’s Four Corners program this week. 


Why won’t China let this two-year-old Australian boy leave? It appears to be the largest imprisonment of people on the basis of religion since the Holocaust: More than a million people have been rounded up, detained and forcibly indoctrinated by the Chinese Government. His wife Nadila Wumaier, who has been prevented from leaving Xinjiang, was detained and questioned by Chinese authorities in the city of Urumqi on Tuesday about her husband’s remarks, but has since been released. Mr Abudusalamu has been asking the Australian Federal Government to help bring his wife and two-year-old son Lutfy to Australia.


Read the full story at ABC.net, July 17, 2019


Uyghur Times

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Uighur woman and her two little children deported to China by Turkish authorities

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