I've been following and covering the human rights violations perpetuated against the Uyghurs for some time. This is why.
I have to admit that before I first interviewed Salih Hudayar, I really didn't know who the Uyghurs were. Nor for that matter, could I pronounce Uyghurs (most Americans come close by saying "We-gurs").
Nor was I well informed about East Turkistan.
But as I researched the issue and began talking with Hudayar on a fairly regular basis, an image of atrocities began to emerge.
I always wondered how the world remained so silent for so long during the Holocaust (six million Jews perished), the Killing Fields of Cambodia (more than 1 million people died) and the Rwanda genocide (more than half-a-million people died). We Jews have a phrase surrounding the Holocaust: "Never Again!" But many of us believe that cry is not just about those who were exterminated during the Holocaust. But for any future instances of religious or ethnic cleansings.
A new report is out today, once again detailing genocide against the Uyghur people. Prompting me to revisit the issue. The report by the NewLines Institute for Strategy and Policy accuses China of breaching the 1948 Genocide Convention.
It accuses the Chinese government of having the ''intent to destroy" its Uyghur minority population.
This is not the first time, of course, that China has been accused of this. A week ago, for example, the Dutch Parliament passed a resolution accusing China of genocide against the Uyghurs. As did the Canadian Parliament recently. And last year, the United States imposed sanctions over the treatment of Muslims in China. But the plight of the Uyghurs isn't exactly what people might talk about around the water cooler if they actually were still working from their offices.
It all started back in 1955, when East Turkistan was declared by China to be the "Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." A policy of repression followed. The East Turkistan Government-in-Exile says during the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese massacred thousands of Uyghurs. Eventually, they say, millions of Uyghurs were killed. They say that 750,000 died because of 46 nuclear tests the Chinese government conducted in East Turkistan.
Then, they say in 2016 so-called re-education camps were erected to incarcerate Uyghurs. The East Turkistan Government-in-Exile says it's more proper to refer to them as concentration camps.
One of my interviews with Hudayar, who is the prime minister of the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile, really left an impression. He told me that the incarceration of Uyghurs in these camps is big business. That organs of Muslims are being harvested and sent overseas to affluent Muslim nations to be used by patients who only want Halal organs - those that come from people who follow Islamic law and who, presumably, have never eaten pork, which is religiously prohibited.
I was stunned. He was telling me that Muslims were benefiting from the killing of fellow Muslims.
Hudayar, a political refugee based in Washington who says he has lost four relatives in the camps, is once again today calling on the international community to ''fulfil its obligations and act to end China's ongoing genocide."
The evidence is compelling. Images of conditions in the camps have been smuggled out of China. There are satellite images, too. One researcher who has studied them concludes there are 380 detention camps housing Uyghurs in China.
In 2018 the United Nations said China was holding a million Uyghurs in detention camps. China responded with a blanket denial.
If history repeats itself, the crescendo of criticism will grow louder and louder. And perhaps the Chinese government will eventually change its policies and maybe even set the Uyghurs free. But how many more people will die in the interim?
It's a question Prime Minister Hudayar asks himself every day. He says more than 100 of his relatives are in concentration camps. And he wonders how many of them will survive.
pamela Lipscher on March 09, 2021:
Genocides in China , the Uyghur 2014 - present. People are finally speaking out about it. My heart goes out to them. I have heard about this for sometime because I have a family member from Hong Kong. Hard to beleive but its true. I have been reading and watching youtubes videos about it . Gary I am glad you wrote this. The more people and/or counrties find out about it. it could end it , well it could lead to world war 3 . ugh But It needs to stop!!