Muslims of India Raise Voices for Uighurs of China

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The apex body of Indian Muslims has come forward to condemn the brutality shown by the Chinese authority in the autonomous Xinjiang region in the last few days. “The All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, the umbrella body of Indian Muslim organizations, condemned the reign of terror unleashed by the Chinese security forces and the Chinese Han settlers in Xinjiang on the Uighur Muslims,” a statement issued on July 7 from New Delhi said.

Mentionable that Xinjiang or the Eastern Turkestan, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan is a traditional Muslim homeland. The Chinese authority has allegedly been trying to change its demography with continued state repression. The AIMMM President Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, while speaking to this writer from New Delhi, argued that the persecution of the Uighur Muslims and the continuous attempts to change the area’s demography by planting Han Chinese in the region are the real reasons behind the unrest.

Mentionable that, ethnic clashes between the minority Uighur people and the ethnic Han Chinese erupted in Urumqi (the capital of Xinjiang) on Sunday. According to the state run Xinhua News Agency, the unrest snatched away the live of at least 156 people. Media reports also reveal that over 800 people were injured in the clash, where as few hundred shops and vehicles were vandalized by over thousand protesters. The local authority has arrested over 1,400 Uighur Muslims in the follow up actions.

The Chinese government has constructed numerous roads, railways, schools and hospitals in the province, but even then many Uighurs continued demanding independence from Beijing. Moreover, the Uighurs also feel as being marginalized in their homeland, because of the Han people’s rapid migration to Xinjiang.

The official Xinhua News Agency on July 6 however tried to report about the issue little differently saying, the ‘tourism in northwest China’s Xinjiang has come to a standstill after the riot in the regional capital Urumqi -‘. Quoting Ma Rui, regional tourism bureau spokesman, the agency also claimed that the riot had a very bad influence on tourism, and the bureau told travel agencies not to go to sensitive areas.

Xinhua also interviewed Chen Guangyuan, president of the Islamic Association of China, who categorically slammed the riot in Xinjiang, saying it went against the basic doctrine of the Islam.

According to the Islamic teaching, the crime of killing one innocent person is equal to that of killing the whole mankind, Chen said. “As head of the IAC, I would express my severe condemnation and great indignation over it,” quoting Chen Guangyuan the agency reported.

Russell Leigh Moses, an author who keeps an eye on the changing nature of power in China, highlighted that Uighurs’ real grievances remain ‘Beijing’s tight control over the practice of Islam; Han Chinese who migrate to Xinjiang and take the better jobs there; and the fact that ethnic minorities lack regular access to the government bureaucracy, where business in China is largely done’.

“Religious practice, local customs and educational choices in Xinjiang are controlled by the state to a draconian degree. Mosques are being repaired and modernized, but children have not been allowed to attend services,” he wrote in an article published by The New York Times.

“Beijing must realise that its way to prosperity and world status power does not go not through state terrorism seen earlier in its similarly brutal form in the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square,” said Dr Khan of AIMMM adding that China must stop the migration into Eastern Turkestan and allow its people to enjoy civil and human rights other Chinese enjoy.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay in a statement has urged the Chinese authorities and also the ethnic groups of Xinjiang to refrain from further violence.

Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati (Northeast India) based journalist, who contributes to NewsBlaze and various media outlets throughout the world.