China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Harder should know better than to apply such relativism. Bob Rae provides the example: China ‘attempting to defend the indefensible’ in Xinjiang: Bob …YouTube · CBC NewsMar. 30, 2021:

The Trudeau government’s former representative in the Senate says a proposed motion in the Red Chamber to condemn China’s treatment of ethnic Muslim minorities as genocide smacks of “moral superiority and self-righteousness,” given Canada’s past conduct toward Indigenous people including in residential schools.

Senator Peter Harder, a former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs who later headed the Canada-China Business Council, recently spoke in the Senate to oppose a motion that would say the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims fits the United Nations’ definition of genocide. A similar motion has already passed the Commons, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from voting.

Activists and UN experts have said a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been subject to mass detention in Xinjiang. China denies abuses and says the centres provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism in the remote western region. Reports have emerged about Beijing’s success in slashing the birth rate of Uyghurs and other minorities through mass sterilization, forced abortions and mandatory birth control.

Senate motion No. 79, which has not yet been put to a vote, notes that two successive U.S. administrations have labelled China’s behaviour as genocide. It also proposes calling upon the International Olympic Committee to deny Beijing the 2022 Winter Olympics by relocating the Games to another country “if the Chinese government continues this genocide.”

The Dutch, British and Lithuanian parliaments have in recent months adopted similar motions recognizing the treatment of Uyghurs as genocide.

Mr. Harder, however, urged fellow senators to consider Canada’s conduct toward Indigenous people before they vote.

He noted that the debate is occurring after “the tragic discovery” of unmarked graves containing the remains of 215 children and “adds to the indictment of our centuries-long practice of residential schools, forced sterilization and what the former chief justice of Canada described as cultural genocide of our Indigenous peoples,” the senator said.

“This horrifying reality of our history stands in rather cynical contrast to the tone of moral superiority and self-righteousness contained in the motion before us tonight.”

The former Trump administration declared the repression of the Uyghurs to be genocide and U.S. President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said he concurs with that assessment. In addition, a March, 2021 State Department report on human rights issued under the Biden administration declares that “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during [2020] against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

Mr. Harder, speaking to the Senate motion late last week, said this is not the way to engage with China.

“We should get off our high horse and seek to engage more appropriately, not bellicosely and belligerently, with countries – not just China, but countries that we need to engage.”

Ottawa has already joined with the U.S., Britain and the European Union in imposing sanctions on several Chinese government officials for “gross and systematic human-rights violations” against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other largely Muslims groups.

Senator Leo Housakos, the sponsor of motion No. 79, said that unlike China, Canada has acknowledged its atrocities. “China still doesn’t acknowledge what they are doing is ethnic cleansing.”

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said Beijing’s use of technology to monitor, coerce and control a whole people is providing a how-to manual for other authoritarian powers to follow. “It’s writing the book on genocides of the future,” Mr. Mulroney said.

He said Canada’s shameful treatment of Indigenous people shouldn’t preclude Canadians from identifying and calling out misconduct elsewhere. “We call out the Uyghur genocide and question Beijing’s hosting of the Olympics not as a political statement but as a moral statement,” Mr. Mulroney said.

“Surely if we have learned anything as a country it is that you need to act swiftly against genocide anywhere.”

Mr. Harder also said he worried that the motion declaring China’s conduct to be genocide could jeopardize the treatment of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians locked up by Beijing after Ottawa arrested a Huawei executive on a U.S. extradition request.

In addition, he cited concerns that it could also inflame anti-Asian violence in Canada and hurt Ottawa’s ability to find common cause with China in fighting climate change and building stronger global trading rules.

Asked for further comment, Mr. Harder said Monday that Canada should be humble. “It’s not that we lack moral authority as much as we should speak with humility and acknowledge our own historic (and recent) failings,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Regardless of the motivation of our governmental and church leaders at the time, history has shown that we were wrong.”

The Globe and Mail asked Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, for comment on whether he feels Canada’s conduct toward indigenous people – in particular, its record of residential schools – precludes Canadians from criticizing China. Chief Bellegarde’s office said that he was not able to respond Monday afternoon.

Source: China genocide motion smacks of ‘moral superiority,’ Senator says

Removal of Islamic Motifs Leaves Xinjiang’s Id Kah Mosque ‘a Shell For Unsuspecting Visitors’

Of note:

Since 2016, the Chinese authorities have been systematically destroying mosques, cemeteries, and other religious structures and sites across the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Last year, the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) published a report detailing this campaign, titled “Demolishing Faith: The Destruction and Desecration of Uyghurs Mosques and Shrines”; the report was referenced in the 2020 annual report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The report uses geolocation and other techniques to show that anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 mosques, shrines, and other religious sites in the XUAR were destroyed between 2016 and 2019. In some cases, only the domes and towers were destroyed from certain structures, while in others, characteristically Islamic elements such as stars and crescents, domes, and scripture plaques were removed. In some cases, entire mosques have also been felled.

China has made no official response to the report or to claims about the large-scale and widespread destruction it has undertaken. However, the Chinese authorities have continued to bring international visitors to mosques such as Id Kah in Kashgar, as well as to other religious sites around the region, and to publish articles depicting the mosque in state-run media, all in support of the official line that Uyghurs enjoy religious freedom in the region.

Id Kah is the largest and oldest mosque in the XUAR and the largest mosque in all of China. Uyghurs have long regarded Id Kah as a symbol of Islamic culture and a representative of Islamic architecture in the region. While the mosque is still standing mostly intact today, there are some very alarming signs that it is merely a shell of what it used to be. In 2018, authorities removed the star-and-crescent structures from the tops of the mosque’s dome and minarets, along with the colorful scriptural plaque that long hung above its front entrance. As of 2020, those features appear not to have been restored to the mosque. The plaque, which dates to hijra 1325 (1908 C.E.) contains Quranic scriptures along with information about the construction of the mosque and the identity of the artist who made the sign.

Ahead of Eid al-Fitr, which on May 23 will mark the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, RFA’s Uyghur Service spoke with Turghunjan Alawudun, director of the Religious Affairs Committee for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC) exile group, and Henry Szadziewski, a senior researcher with the UHRP, about the significance of the missing plaque.

A close up view of the plaque adorning the front entrance of Id Kah mosque, taken before its removal.
A close up view of the plaque adorning the front entrance of Id Kah mosque, taken before its removal. RFA

Alawudun: The disappearance of the scriptural plaque from the entrance to Id Kah is one aspect of the Chinese regime’s evil policies meant to eliminate the Islamic faith among Uyghurs, to eliminate Uyghur faith, literary works, and language—and Uyghurs themselves. This scriptural plaque above the door into Id Kah, like the [mosque’s] minarets, has an Islamic character and is a symbol that has been there from the founding of the mosque until today. The Chinese regime can’t bear this, it can’t stand it, and the inner hatred they feel toward Uyghurs has boiled over such that they had the plaque removed.

They’ve left Id Kah [itself] there for the international community, as part of a bid to fool the world. By taking visitors from Islamic countries there every once in a while to see it, showing it to international visitors who come to investigate [the situation in the region], and sharing it in the media every now and then, they’re pursuing policies that deceive the world. Even so, we can still see that the cruel things that China is doing—the destruction by the Chinese regime of things connected to Uyghurs, Uyghur culture, symbols of the Uyghur people, expressions of Uyghur culture—are signs of the Chinese regime’s horrible plan to eliminate the Uyghurs.

Szadziewski: Religious freedom is not a reality for Uyghurs. Across their homeland, mosques, shrines, and other sacred spaces have been bulldozed into history. In the camps, Uyghurs are indoctrinated into the supposed evils of religion. Id Kah in Kashgar has remained standing. Its disappearance would cause outrage given its importance. The significance of its existence to the Chinese authorities is to demonstrate to the world observance of Uyghurs’ religious freedoms. However, the removal of Islamic motifs from the building tells a different story. It tells us Id Kah is being stripped of religious meaning to become a shell for unsuspecting visitors. There is no reason to remove Islamic motifs from the building other than to demonstrate to Uyghurs that belief in Islam belongs to the past. As such, the despoiling of Id Kah signals a move toward an effective ban on the Islamic faith.

Source: Removal of Islamic Motifs Leaves Xinjiang’s Id Kah Mosque ‘a Shell For Unsuspecting Visitors’

Muslim nations are defending China as it cracks down on Muslims, shattering any myths of Islamic solidarity

All too true. Will be even harder to take their representations on anti-Muslim hate and Islamophobia seriously:

Last week, 22 mostly Western countries launched the world’s first major collective challenge to China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims and other minorities.

In a joint statement to the High Commissioner of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, the nations criticized Beijing for what they described as “disturbing reports of large-scale arbitrary detentions” and “widespread surveillance and restrictions.”
A day later, 37 other countries jumped to Beijing’s defense, with their own letter praising China’s human rights record, and dismissing the reported detention of up to two million Muslims in western China’s Xinjiang region. Nearly half of the signatories were Muslim-majority nations, including Pakistan, Qatar, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, according to the Chinese government.
“Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers,” the letter said, according to Reuters, which saw a copy of the letter. The letter went on to say that there had been no terrorist attacks in the past three years in the region, and that the people there were happy, fulfilled and secure.
The language in the letter echoed previous claims made by China, which has denied allegations of torture or forced political indoctrination in Xinjiang and said that the camps were “vocational training centers” designed to fight terrorism and combat Islamic extremism.
But reports of China’s abuse of Muslims in the Xinjiang region are rampant. Many Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are believed to have been hauled into conditions that activists call re-education camps. Accounts given to CNN by former detainees describe being forced into the camps under the threat of violence. Detainees who have since fled China say they were forced to renounce Islam while pledging loyalty to China’s ruling Communist party, according to a report by the Council of Foreign Relations.
So why are some Muslim-majority countries coming to Beijing’s defense?
“I was surprised that (Muslim countries) would put it in writing and put their names on it and sign a document to actually praise China,” Azeem Ibrahim, a director at the DC-based Center for Global Policy, told CNN. “It’s one thing to keep quiet and abstain. It’s another thing to overtly support (the policies) when there was no need for them to do so.”
“I think that’s indicative of the influence and power that China has,” he said.

Source: Muslim nations are defending China as it cracks down on Muslims, shattering any myths of Islamic solidarity

Xinjiang’s Uyghurs were enslaved and forced to convert to Islam, Chinese white paper claims

Sigh…. Rewriting and reinterpreting history (and yes, Islam dates from the 7th century, spread by conquest and conversion, but to question its legitimacy 1,400 years later?)

Perhaps the 2020 International Metropolis Conference in Beijing will have this or other tendentious presentations justifying this approach to integration:

Uyghurs in Xinjiang were forced to become Muslim and have been an integral part of China for thousands of years, Beijing said in a new report, in an attempt to justify its controversial crackdown against the ethnic minority in the far-western region.

Key points:

  • China has sought to justify treatment of Uyghurs that Western countries have condemned as “cultural genocide”
  • Beijing’s report hits back at “double standards” of critics and defends “anti-terrorism” efforts
  • Experts say the white paper is a classic case of China’s ongoing information warfare

A white paper released yesterday by China’s State Council Information Office — the Government’s propaganda arm — presents the ruling Communist Party’s interpretation of history, claiming “Islam is neither an indigenous nor the sole belief system of the Uyghur people”.

The report also said that Islam spread into Xinjiang by “the Arab Empire” and that the Turkic Uyghur people “endured slavery” at the hands of “the Turks”.

“Conversion to Islam was not a voluntary choice made by the common people, but a result of religious wars and imposition by the ruling class,” it said, declaring that the Government nevertheless respects “the Muslims’ right to their beliefs”.

More than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are thought to be detainedin what the Communist Party calls vocational education centres, referred to by the UN as “re-education camps”.

Those living outside the camps are also subject to mass surveillance, with Beijing declaring it wants to “Sinicise Islam” — a hardline policy increasingly referred to by observers as “cultural genocide”against the Turkic minority group.

The report was published as part of Beijing’s broader campaign to deflect international criticism of its crackdown against the Uyghurs, and reiterates its stance that repressive measures in Xinjiang are “counter-terrorism” tactics against Uyghur separatists and Islamic extremists.

“I don’t think anybody outside China who follows what happens in Xinjiang is fooled by this white paper,” Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch, told the ABC.

James Leibold, a La Trobe University expert on Uyghurs and other Chinese ethnic minorities, said the white paper is a “classic case of China’s ongoing information warfare.”

“Like any piece of propaganda, it’s filled with partial truths,” he said.

But state-run English-language newspaper the Global Times applauded the report, claiming that with the paper, “kind-hearted people can distinguish between right and wrong.”

“It is hoped malicious agitators will zip their lip,” it said.

Beijing claims Turkic Uyghurs have always been Chinese

The Uyghurs are a mostly Turkic-speaking minority who share more in common linguistically and culturally with Turks than they do with China’s ethnic Han majority.

Historians believe parts of the Xinjiang region have been referred to as Turkestan since the medieval era.

According to China’s white paper, however, the region has “long been an inseparable part of Chinese territory” and has never been East Turkestan — a term it claims is used only by separatists in their “clamour for independence”.

Mr Leibold said this claim was “frankly not true”.

Beijing’s report claims that “from the very beginning”, Uyghur culture “reflected elements of Chinese culture” and was an integral part of Chinese civilisation.

“It’s foolish to speak about the existence of a unified Chinese nation 5,000 or even 3,000 years ago to include what is today Xinjiang and the Uyghur people,” Mr Leibold said, adding that claims about religious freedom in Xinjiang were “laughable”.

“Xinjiang always upholds equality for all religions,” the white paper said.

But the Communist Party’s crackdowns against Muslims and other faith communities including Christians and the Falun Gong are well documented.

A report from Amnesty International in 2018 claimed that public expressions of faith in Xinjiang were now deemed “extremist” by authorities, including growing a beard, praying or fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“We have seen many ways in which Uyghur identity has been suppressed in recent years,” Ms Pearson said, noting that China has also banned names deemed too Islamic.

Mass incarceration criticised by Western countries

Australia has expressed criticism of China’s treatment of Uyghurs, recently joining 21 other countries at the UN Human Rights Council including the UK, Canada and Germany in calling upon China to end its detention of ethnic Uyghurs.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referred to China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang as “one of the worst human rights crises of our time” and “the stain of the century”.

China’s white paper criticised unnamed countries it said “apply double standards to terrorism and human rights and have issued unjustified criticism of Xinjiang’s effort.”

“This kind of criticism betrays the basic conscience and justice of humanity, and will be repudiated by all genuine champions of justice and progress,” it added.

Thirty-five countries including Saudi Arabia, Russia, and North Korea recently accused the West of “politicising human rights” over the Uyghurs and commended what it called China’s “remarkable achievements” in human rights.

Dozens of Australian citizens have been caught by the dragnet of China’s crackdown against Muslims in Xinjiang, many of whom have family members detained in the province.

An investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners revealed last week the extent of China’s attempts at cultural genocide against Uyghurs, including a forced labour scheme to produce cotton bought by Western clothing manufacturers.

It also found that several Australian universities were linked to surveillance technologies used against Uyghur Muslims.

Source: Xinjiang’s Uyghurs were enslaved and forced to convert to Islam, Chinese white paper claims