Lauren Moye, FISM News
U.S. coverage of the Beijing Olympic games has placed a spotlight on the Uyghur people’s plight at the hands of Communist China, renewing advocacy of the Muslim minority population in the face of gross human rights violations.
Over the past couple of years, startling reports of atrocities committed against the Uyghurs in the northwest China province of Xinjiang have surfaced. China has denied these allegations despite repeated evidence submitted to world leaders.
According to the Uyghur Tribunal, these crimes vary but include “torture, enslavement, extermination, and detention of a significant proportion of the Uyghur, Kazakh and other Turkic Muslim population in camps which the PRC says are “vocational training centers” or “re-education centers” but are widely alleged to be involuntary detention centers which some have likened to “concentration camps”.
According to the United Nations experts and human rights groups, more than 1 million people have been placed by the Communist Chinese Party into forced labor camps since 2016. The Uyghur people alongside other Muslim minorities comprise the majority of these individuals. In addition to cultural genocide, human rights violations also include rampant sexual abuse, organ harvesting, apartheid, and forced labor, among even more allegations.
Voices have gathered from other dispersed Uyghur populations to speak out about these horrific actions, using the controversial location of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Beijing to gain traction.
“My father… was a historian and was thrown in prison because of the columns and books which he wrote. I can’t get any news on him since 2017,” Sufinur Omercan, a Turkish Uyghur, told Reuters from an Istanbul protest against the games yesterday. Omercan is not the only person to present evidence of the half-a-decade-long abuse of the Muslim minority.
In July 2020, drone surveillance footage gained attention which appeared to show Uyghur men with shaved heads, kneeling, blindfolded, and bound outside of a train station near the Chinese city of Korla. One expert who examined the video believed the video was taken “in April or August of 2018.”
The first round of Uyghur Tribunal reports included eyewitness statements of rape, medical experimentation, and the complete disappearance of individuals. On December 9, 2021, the Tribunal released its final judgment based on six months of investigation. This judgment discussed graphic torture, genital mutilation, and starvation.
Although the Tribunal did not find “evidence of mass killings,” they did rule “by the imposition of measures to prevent births intended to destroy a significant part of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as such, has committed genocide.” This evidence showed a 73.5% drop in Uyghur birth rates between 2015 and 2018, which declined to negative in some counties of the Xinjiang region by 2019.
The U.S. formally declared that China was committing “genocide” against the Muslim minorities last month.
China has denied reports of genocide, forced sterilization, and cultural eradication against the Uyghur. This has placed journalists covering the Beijing Olympic Games in a precarious position. Despite free press advocates’ concerns for the safety and ability of journalists to adequately report from Beijing, the U.S. network NBC honored the requests of human rights organizations to place a spotlight on the geopolitical tensions surrounding the games.
Dutch journalist Sjoerd den Daas of the NOS Journaal stoked these fears yesterday when a live video feed showed a “Public Security Volunteer” forcibly dragging the journalist off-frame during the first day of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
NOS Journaal tweeted a statement alongside the video on Friday: “Our correspondent was pulled away from the camera by security guards at 12:00 pm live in the NOS Journaal. Unfortunately, this is increasingly becoming a daily reality for journalists in China. He is fine and was able to finish his story a few minutes later.”