Speaking on the behalf of their community, a group of Muslim Uighurs have made a video to call on scholars, activists, and journalists in the Muslim world to draw more attention to the crackdown on their minor community.
The world has criticized the government in western China’s so-called “re-education camps” targeting the Uighur ethnicity that mostly live in Xinjiang province, sometimes referred to as Chinese Turkestan.
The mass detention of Uighur Muslims, and bans on certain Islamic rites and clothing, in the name of re-education and “de-extremification” of the Muslim minorities have made international headlines.
To the community, the case remains somewhat forgotten by journalists from Muslim countries.
“Muslim countries have economic and political interests, that is why official news outlets pay no mind to this case. That is why scholars and organizations must at least deliver this message to all muslims,” a man representing the community said in the video.
The speaker emphasized that the case of Uighur Muslims is that of “right and justice.”
He stated: “[W]e, Muslims, in a short period, have become vulnerable to cruelty, persecution, murder, and a ban on Islamic religious practices.”
In recent days, China has even issued a statement saying that any Muslims who think alcohol, cigarettes, or dancing are “haram” (forbidden) need to turn themselves in.
The speaker in the video also stated: “When we tell Muslim people that China prohibits Muslim in eastern Turkestan from praying, fasting, going to Hajj pilgrimage, giving Zakat mandatory charity, and from following the Sharia dress code for women and long beards for men, many of them do not believe us and say that we have trouble with the government.”
The man suggested that Muslims outside China, organizations, scholars, or activists send a delegation to investigate the condition of Muslims in the region if they did not believe in the persecution practised against them.
The son of an elderly scholar who shed tears in the video was allegedly killed, and 40 of the scholar’s children and grandchildren have been detained.
“It’s been more than two years and we still do not know what happened to our families, whether they are alive or dead, because they have prohibited us from contacting them,” the speaker said.
More than one million Uighurs are currently being held in “re-education camps,” with allegedly no contact with their families, according to a United Nations report.
Sending a plea for the Muslim world, the man stated that if none could help Uighur Muslims “directly,” they could “at least pray” for their Muslim brothers.
The Chinese government has defended the use of camps by stating that the prisoners are also able to take occupational classes on topics such as hairdressing or commerce. Their purpose is mainly to remove possibilities of extremism and terrorism in the country.
Many media outlets and activists around the world claim that the camps are in fact a means to strip the Uighur Muslims of their identity.