The Uyghur Genocide

There is much to fault China about today. But nothing, not even Covid, can match the horror being inflicted by the People’s Republic on what was 20 million of it’s people. The Uyghurs (pronounced Wegurs.) This Muslim community is located in the East Turkestan area and China calls it the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region(XUAR). Seventy-six leaders of faith communities in the UK have recently called China’s repression and destruction of the Uyghurs,”…one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust…”

Uyghurs have been killed in the streets by Chinese troops. Jailed and tortured. And several million herded into concentration camps where most are killed or worked to death. At the Ottawa meeting of the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights on July 20th, Dr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, testified to the following:

• Since 2017, up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other groups in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang have been swept up in probably the,”…largest incarceration of an ethno-religious community since the Holocaust.”

• New research gives strong evidence that Beijing’s actions in East Turkestan also meet the physical genocide criterion cited in section (d) of article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, “Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”.

Beijing’s oppression of Uyghurs is planned in the capitol and executed by the provincial government in East Turkestan. It includes mass incarceration, birth control, large police/digital surveillance. Beijing has also instituted a policy of racial domination, as it has brought millions of Han Chinese settlers into the region with promises of high salaries, jobs and free housing. All on the back of Uyghur lives, jobs and property.

The twenty UK rabbis who signed the British declaration added in a separate statement that, “We’ve seen many persecutions and mass atrocities … needing our attention. But there is one that, if allowed to continue with impunity, calls into question most seriously the willingness of the international community to defend universal human rights for everyone – the plight of the Uyghurs. After the Holocaust, the world said ‘Never Again.’ Today, we repeat those words ‘Never Again’ all over again. We make a simple call for justice, to investigate these crimes, hold those responsible to account and establish a path towards the restoration of human dignity.”

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, wrote earlier to China’s ambassador in the UK, including a message from former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. Both of them took the rare step of making comparisons between the Holocaust and crimes committed against the Uyghurs. “At least one million Uyghurs… in China are incarcerated in prison camps facing starvation, torture, murder, sexual violence, slave labour and forced organ extraction. Outside the camps, basic religious freedom is denied. Mosques are destroyed, children are separated from their families, and acts as simple as owning a Holy Quran, praying or fasting can result in arrest.”

It is time for China to face consequences. We urge Canada to lead. We must argue in all international fora that China face exclusion from multilateral institutions, sanctioning at the political and economic levels and even penalties under the Magnitsky Acts since there is now also evidence of widescale forced labour.As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote,“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act”. Amen…