In an open letter written by Amnesty International to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the organisation has called on the PM to raise six different issues including the use of pellet-firing shotguns in Kashmir during his visit to India.
Trudeau is visiting India from February 17 to 23 and the letter lays “out a number of pressing human rights concerns and related recommendations that Amnesty International’s 300,000 supporters across Canada urge you [Trudeau] to raise in all possible exchanges, including meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
According to Amnesty International, the areas of concern are: threatened forced mass expulsion of Rohingya people from India; justice and accountability for the 1984 Sikh massacre; use of pellet-firing shotguns in Kashmir; demonisation of religious minorities; decriminalisation of consensual adult same-sex relations; and criminalisation of marital rape.
Use of pellet-firing shotguns in held-Kashmir
Concerned about use of pellet-firing shotguns in held-Kashmir, Amnesty International urged the Canadian PM “to call on Prime Minister Modi to immediately ban the use of pellet-firing shotguns as a means of policing protests.”
The open letter states these shotguns have killed, blinded and injured thousands of people. “People injured by pellet-firing shotguns have faced serious physical and mental health issues, including symptoms of psychological trauma,” the letter reads further.
The use of pellet shotguns in held-Kashmir violates international standards on the use of force, states Amnesty International. They also urged Trudeau to “work with the state government of Jammu and Kashmir to set up independent investigations into cases of deaths or serious injuries caused by pellet firing shotguns.”
Demonisation of Muslims in India
Hate crimes against Muslims has also been raised as a major concern by the human rights organisation. According to the letter, in 2017, several hate crimes against Muslims were reported in different parts of India, amid a rising tide of Islamophobia in the country. Stating that this has “contributed to a growing sense of insecurity for many Muslims, and intensified religious tensions.”
As such, the organisation urges Trudeau call on PM Modi to”publicly condemn hate crimes and Islamophobia and work with state governments to end impunity for those responsible for hate crimes against Muslims.”
Other areas of concern
The open letter also asks Trudeau to call on Modi to ensure that Rohingya people living in India are not forcibly expelled, and “to explore opportunities for Canada and India to work together to pressure the government of Myanmar to end discrimination and violence against Rohingya people.”
The 1984 Sikh massacre has also been raised as an issue of concern and it is urged that “all those suspected of involvement in the 1984 killings, including those with command responsibility, are prosecuted.”
The letter also asks the Canadian PM to discuss with Modi to decriminalise consensual adult same-sex relations. Further, the organisation also asks that India “amend the law to remove the exception to marital rape in the definition of rape in the penal code.”
Uyghur Muslims: Victims of the World’s Largest Ethnic Cleansing.
(Pic via Radio Free Asia)
China is carrying out a systematic campaign to ethnically cleanse up to 15 million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, or rather what was East Turkistan until China began occupying and colonizing the region in 1949.
Moreover, China is sparing no effort to eradicate any memory or proof of Uyghur Muslim life. It is truly the stuff of dystopian nightmares, or a reenactment of the worst genocides carried out in the previous century. The handful of personal accounts that trickle out from behind China’s total control of the Internet and the media invoke memories of the Communist state’s darkest days — the period of the “Cultural revolution,” when religious people and sites were wiped from the country’s landscape.
For much of the 1970s and 80s, however, an increasingly open China softened its stance towards its religious and ethnic minorities, but this relative “openness” provided the space for minorities to express their economic, political, and religious grievances. When Uyghur Muslims renewed calls for a return to their independence, a status they enjoyed briefly as a sovereign state in the 1940, then known as the East Turkistan Republic, and as former neighboring Soviet states realized independence, China, fearing a growing separatist movement on its western frontier, began its crackdown on Xinjiang in the late 1990s.
China’s crackdown turned increasingly vicious when the United States declared its “War on Terrorism” in 2001, with China seizing the opportunity to erroneously portray Uyghur Muslims as one-part of the global Islamic insurgency, going so far to tie Uyghur nationalist dreams with the goals of the terror group al-Qaeda. In doing so, China gambled that it could pretty much do whatever it pleased to Uyghur Muslims, so long as it could dupe Western states into believing it, too, was at war with “radical Islam.” It’s the exact same kind of manipulative ploy successfully deployed by Israel, insofar as the manner the Jewish state mischievously conflates the Palestinian liberation struggle with “Islamic terrorism,” so it’s not like China needed to reinvent the proverbial wheel.
What began as a crackdown, however, has morphed into arguably the world’s largest state sponsored campaign of ethnic cleansing.
China has banned any form of expression of Islam in East Turkistan, forcing Uyghur Muslims to publicly denounce their faith and swear allegiance to the Communist state. Recently I posted on Twitter a video of Chinese authorities informing a group of Uyghur Muslims that it is now illegal for them to greet one another with the Islamic greeting, “Assalamu Alaykum.”
Islamic texts are also banned, including the Quran, as are beards that appear “abnormal,” i.e. too Muslim-y. Last year, China published a document titled, “Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities,” which prohibits names associated with Islam, including Medina, Islam, Imam, Medina, Hajj, and others.
“In setting limits on the naming of Uyghurs, the Chinese government is in fact engaging in political persecution under another guise,” Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress group, told Radio Free Asia. “They are afraid that people with such names will become alienated from Chinese policies in the region.”
These are just a sample of a new tranche of restrictive and discriminatory measures that have come into force for those living in the region. Uyghur Muslims are now required by the government to have tracking devices installed on their cars and mobile phones.
But baby names, beards, and tracking devices are the least of problems faced by Uyghur Muslims in the face of brutal Chinese oppression, however. Torture, imprisonment, state sanctioned murder and forced disappearances have become the new reality in the Xinjiang area.
According to reports from human rights watchers, China has ordered its officials in Xinjiang to send almost half of its population to “re-education camps,” otherwise known as forced labor and indoctrination camps, the kind long associated with North Korea.
“We target people who are religious…for example, those who grow beards despite being young,” one Chinese government officer admitted in a report.
When I spoke to Abdugheni Thabit, a Uyghur Muslim journalist who now resides in The Netherlands, he told me that up to 1 million of his people are now in what he calls “prison camps.” Steven Zhang, a Hui Muslim who now lives in Houston, Texas, and who is suing the Chinese government for the murder of his Uyghur Muslim wife, described Thabit’s figure as “very conservative,” claiming, “Within the last 5 years at least 5 million Uyghurs were detained or secretly disappeared.”
Forced disappearances have become a notable and alarming trend in the past year or two. According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Chinese security forces have forcibly disappeared at least 26 journalists, writers, bloggers, and human rights activists alone.
“Victims are often violently abducted, denied their right to due legal process and contact with loved ones or lawyers, and are at high risk of torture while in custody,” observes The Uyghur American Association.
All of which is happening out of the gaze of the international community, thanks largely to China’s control of the Internet and social media. Thabit told me he hadn’t heard from his Uyghur Muslim family in East Turkistan since 2009 as China controls all form of communication coming out of the area. All he knows is they were still alive in 2014, the year his sister, who lives in Washington DC, visited. Again, parallels to North Korea come to mind.
The situation in Xinjiang has “further deteriorated,” according to a statement issued by the US Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) earlier this month.
“Civilians are detained without cause, ‘political education’ camps proliferate, and a vast surveillance apparatus invades every aspect of daily life. These rights violations are deeply troubling and risk serving as a catalyst for radicalization,” said CECC chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Adding to the woes of Uygur Muslims is the absence of a friend anywhere in the international system. Traditional allies Turkey and Pakistan have been brought into China’s sphere of economic influence, and wealthy Gulf Arab states are too preoccupied with Iran, Qatar, or both.
If history is a guide, and should the existential woes of the Uyghur Muslims continue to fall on the disinterested ears of the international community, then one can be sure that where Chinese “re-education” and “assimilation” programs fail, mass extermination will likely follow.