By Muhammad Mussa
A demonstration was held outside the Chinese embassy in London on Tuesday against China’s human rights violations against the Turkic Uighur minority in the country’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, also referred to as East Turkestan.
The protest was organized by the International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) and saw over 100 protestors gather on a cold and rainy evening demanding that Chinese authorities close down the concentration camps in which over 1 million Uighur Muslims are being held and end the mass injustices against them.
Amid the waving of East Turkestan and Turkish flags, the huddled masses chanted slogans such as “Free Free Turkestan!” and “Stop Killing Uighurs!” and heard brief speeches from the event’s organizers and human rights activists.
“We are gathered here today to call on the Chinese government to end its systematic oppression against the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority of Xinjiang,” said an organizer from the IOHR.
“This demonstration and many others should remind the Chinese government that the world knows what’s going on and the Uighur Muslims will not suffer in silence or in loneliness. We will stand by them.”
Human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused the Chinese government of engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing by destroying Uighur Muslim identity and culture and banning them from practicing their religion.
According to Amnesty International, up to one million Uighur Muslims have been detained in concentration camps or ‘re-education centers’ as China refers to them and face physical and mental torture as they are forced to renounce their religion and pledge loyalty to the Communist Party.
“It is zulum (injustice),” Ferida, a protestor, told Anadolu Agency. “They are being punished because they follow a belief that is different to Xi and his party. That is their only crime: their belief,” she added, referring to Xi Jinping, China’s president and all-powerful leader of the Communist Party of China.
Chinese authorities have repeatedly stated that they are detaining people accused of minor crimes and that they are being held in re-education centers, where they enjoy their time and are ‘grateful’ to be there. However, personal accounts from former detainees paint an Orwellian picture where Uighurs are prevented from observing their religious duties.
According to a report published by Human Rights Watch, the Chinese government has carried out these repressive policies for many years against the Uighur people and the mass detention of Uighur Muslims in concentration camps is the latest in a campaign of oppression and repression.
The Uighur people are of Turkic ethnicity, and although they form a majority in the Muslim Xinjiang Autonomous Region, they are a minority in China.