BRIEFING: The Mass Destruction and Desecration of Uyghur Mosques by China: Remarks by UHRP Director Omer Kanat

                                                    

                                               International Religious Freedom Ministerial Side Event

                                     The Mass Destruction and Desecration of Uyghur Mosques by China

                                          Remarks by Omer Kanat, Director, Uyghur Human Rights Project

                                                                                 July 16, 2019

On behalf of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, I would like to thank our co-sponsor, the Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization (UNPO) and our distinguished speakers Professor Tenzin Dorjee and Ben Rogers.

I also want to extend my appreciation to the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, which has done so much to promote the coordination of civil society and government to fight for the rights of people of all faiths and beliefs.

Bahram Sintash’s presentation today is just a sampling of the research to be published in a forthcoming UHRP report on the demolition of mosques, shrines, and cemeteries in East Turkestan. The destruction of the tangible aspects of Uyghur religious life is an extension of China’s policy of cultural extermination of the Uyghurs.

In fact, the persecution of the Uyghurs is an organized program of cultural extermination of an entire people.

In 2013, UHRP published a report on religious freedom documenting how the Chinese government has gradually criminalized faith and imposed harsh punishments for observing Ramadan and for parents who gave their children religious instruction.

China has now taken the logics of this repression to the limit. The mass internment of one and half, possibly three, million Uyghurs includes repetitive propaganda on the so called “evils” of religion.

A Uyghur woman who survived the camps was coerced to repeat

“My soul is infected with serious diseases.”

“There is no God. I don’t believe in God. I believe in the Communist Party.” and

“I am so stupid that I was not thankful for our President Xi Jinping.”

International law is very clear: persecution against any distinct group constitutes a crime against humanity. The situation in East Turkestan fits this definition perfectly, and we must increase our pressure on China before the unimaginable happens.

In 1938, on November 9 and 10, now known as Kristallnacht, the Nazis destroyed over 250 synagogues and desecrated Jewish cemeteries. It was a violent turning point in the repression of Jews and a precursor to the Holocaust.

The horrors of World War Two led to the firm conviction that such hellish devastation must never happen again, a joint conviction of all humanity. It was the impetus for the creation of the United Nations itself. It was the impetus for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the Chinese government is automatically bound by, as a member the United Nations.

Bahram’s presentation today constitutes an urgent call to action. Governments, the UN, religious leaders, and concerned citizens must act before it is too late.

Thank you.

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