By Islam Mohamed
On the pretext of counter-terrorism, Chinese authorities have mounted its crackdown on Uighurs, an ethnic Muslim minority lives north western China, turning a blind eye to the international criticism and to calls for stopping the crackdowns.
Recently, the United Nations called on the Chinese authorities to shut down detention centers, which are known as “re-education camps” in western China and to stop “combating terrorism” as a pretext to detain the Muslim Uighurs.
In its first report in nine years, the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) announced that there are reports revealed that more than a million Uighurs were held in detention. CERD Committee Co-Rapporteur for China Gay Mcdougall voiced her concern over turning the autonomous region of Uighur into an enormous cap for detention.
However, Hu Lianhe, deputy director-general of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department said at the CERD Committee said that the Chinese procedures taken in the autonomous region of Xinjiang are a must to combat terrorism and extremism, denying reports of detaining million Uighur Muslims in the re-education camps.
‘Potential US sanctions’
Signed by 17 congresspersons, a letter was submitted to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin for imposing sanctions on China due to the crackdowns on the Uighurs.
The letter called for imposing sanctions on seven Chinese officials and two companies manufacturing detention equipment. The lawmakers called on president Donald Trump’s administration to use Magnitsky Act to freeze assets of Chinese officials and to ban their enter into the U.S. territories over their violations inside the detention camps in Xinjiang.
In return, Beijing was diplomatically shocked , deploring the U.S. Congress’ move. “The U.S. has no right to criticize China on this issue, or be judge in this regard. The lawmakers should focus on their jobs instead of trying to poke their noses into other countries’ affairs and trying to judge on the human rights. Even, threats of imposing sanctions on other countries are illogic,” said Chinese Spokesperson of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying.
Hell on Xinjiang
Chinese authorities are trying to launch a large-scale democratic change via mangling the 10-million Muslims of Uighurs with the most-populous ethnic group of Han Chinese. The Chinese authorities encourage the Han Chinese to migrate from the eastern parts of the country to western Xinjiang, which is rich in reserves of oil, minerals and fertile agricultural lands. The internal migration aims to weaken the presence of Uighurs in the region.
Uighur Muslims are forced to abandon their religion, to criticize themselves and their relatives, to show their gratitude to only the ruling party, according to The Guardian. Uighur girls are forced to marry men of the Han, the ethnicity that makes of 92 percent of the population.
In Ramadan, the ninth holy month of Islamic colander where the Muslims fast and abstain from drinking and eating from dust to dawn, Muslim students and employees were forced to eat and drink at day. Meanwhile, the local newspaper publish articles warning of health risks of abstaining from eating or drinking.
Muslims, under 18 years old, were banned to go to mosques. Last year, the Chinese government ordered the Uighur Muslim employees to hand in all copies of Holy Quran and paryer mats, The Independent reported. China’s official justification was to counter terrorism and to curb the extremists’ threats. However, the most notable is the detention of hundred thousands of people without any charges with terrorist attacks.
A number of Uighur organizations abroad have demanded independence from China and the establishment of a “East Turkistan” as their state on an area of one-fifth of the country’s territory.
Historically, the Uighurs have succeeded several times to have their own independent state in the region; however, it came again under the Chinese sovereignty by the Chinese Liberation Army led by President Mao Zedong in 1949. Since then, the Uighurs have been ruled by China and are demanding re-independence.
Many Uighur’s organizations are operating abroad since the government does not allow them to join any political party except for the ruling Communist Party. All such organizations were labeled by the Chinese authorities as “terrorists”. One of such organizations is World Uighur Congress, which was founded by activist Rebiya Kadeer. In 2005, the US government pressured on China to released Kadeer after being detained five years in prison.
Claws of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP)
The TIP ( formerly known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement) is one of the most prominent Uighur movement. It was founded in 1997 by Hassan Masoum, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan in 2002. Since then, the movement has been run by his successor Abdel-Haq al-Turkistani. The movement was accused several times of launching terrorist attacks in China.
Currently, thousands of the party members are fighting in the northern provinces of Syria’s Idlib. Beijing accuses Ankara of facilitating the entry of TIP members into Syria and of sympathizing with their cause as the Turkish and Uighurs have the same ethnicity, religion and language.
Last year, Political and media adviser to the President of Syria Bouthaina Shaaban discussed this issue with Chinese military officials in a meeting. It has been reported by Russian newspapers later that the meeting has resulted in the participation of Chinese special forces in fighting against the party members in Syria on November 28. However a Chinese envoy to Syria denied such reports at a meeting with a Syrian opposition delegation in Geneva.
Shaaban’s meeting with Chinese officials came after the movement leader Turkistani had threatened to launch attacks against China. He accused Beijing of practising terrorism against the Uighur minority.
The TIP ideology has analogy with Sham Liberation Front, al-Qaeda branch in Syria and formerly known as the Nasra Front. Both movements have participated in major battles in the Jisr al-Shughour city, at Abu Al-Hurairah military airbase, and others.
With imminent exit of most of fighters from Syria, Beijing fears that these trained fighters will return back their home and launch ‘possible attacks’ against the Chinese.
China and Syria have large-scale intelligence cooperation to pursue the party members. So, the Turkish intelligence is trying to convince the party to dissolve itself for avoiding any possible confrontation, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Chinese government pursues the fleeing citizens of the Muslim minority worldwide. In his speech at the 19th Congress of the Communist Party in November 2017, President Xi Jinping vowed to track the fleeing citizens and bring them back to China to re-educate them.