By Hayati Nupus and Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo
Indonesian lawmakers on Thursday urged the government to play a strategic role in stopping discrimination, intimidation and persecution faced by Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China.
The foreign relations committee of the House of Representatives said as a country with the largest population of Muslims that has good bilateral relations with Beijing, Indonesia should raise its voice for freedom to practice religious beliefs in China.
"We urge the Indonesian government to intensify diplomatic efforts with Chinese authorities regarding what happened to the Uyghurs, as well as gathering support from other countries, especially Muslim countries," said a lawmaker of the committee, Sukamta, who goes by only one name.
In a statement, he said Indonesia respects the sovereignty of China, but at the same time hopes that the faith and culture of Muslims be protected.
He noted that 1 million Muslim Uyghurs in China are facing discrimination and persecution.
The Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslims have long accused Chinese authorities of religious and economic discrimination.
The authorities have banned men from growing beards and women from wearing veils.
The area is also under the world's most extensive electronic surveillance program, according to the Wall Street Journal.
"Those who violate the ban are placed in a special camp, which according to the confession of one of the Uyghurs, is more like a prison," Sukamta said.
“Freedom of religion without discrimination is guaranteed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights,” he added.