The persecution of Islam in East Turkestan by China is unparalleled. The demolition of thousands of mosques and the prohibition of religious symbols go hand-in-hand with the establishment of concentration camps and human-rights violations qualify as genocide, said South Asian Democratic Forum members.
“Freedom of religion and Islamic practices was suppressed by China in East Turkestan. China had destroyed one-third of the region’s mosque of the East Turkestan region. For how long could Muslim majority countries like Pakistan receive Chinese blood money as an investment,” asked Rushan Abbas, Executive Director, Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU). She called on all countries not to be an accomplice in China’s genocide.
The South Asian Democratic Forum (SADF) on October 8 organised a webinar on ‘Persecution of Islam in East Turkestan‘ wherein the participants discussed the gross human rights violations carried out by China and its allies in East Turkestan.
The webinar was moderated by Paula Casaca, Executive Director, SADF called out the hypocritical silence of states like Pakistan, which proclaimed itself as the champion of Islam and Muslims, on the Uyghur issue.
Senge Sering, President of the Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, said “Chinese and Pakistanis attacked the families, particularly women and children of the dissenters in Gilgit Baltistan. China’s policy of economic exploitation and cultural genocide in Tibet and Xinxiang is now spreading, like coronavirus into the Pashtun areas, Gilgit Baltistan and Baluchistan in Pakistan. Wherever policies like China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) are in place, China is accentuating border conflict and tensions and pursuing a policy of divide and rule. China is forcing Pakistan to deny autonomy to Gilgit Baltistan and enabling it to annex it in contravention of international laws.”
Sering said Pakistan denied even the basic rights to the people of Gilgit Baltistan and this was a replica of Chinese policies pursued in Xinjiang and Tibet.
Fazal-ur-Rehman Afridi, PTM Representative to European Union and United Nations, said that just like Sering, his family was also threatened in Pakistan for voicing the concerns of Pashtuns.
The speaker said, “Pakistan is persecuting Pashtuns in a similar way as Uyghurs are being persecuted in Xinjiang. Pakistan, which calls itself a champion of Islam, is criminally silent on the plight of Muslims in East Turkestan. Pakistan was not a champion of Islam and only invoking Islam to further its narrow strategic agenda. In the name of CPEC, the Pashtun resources were being plundered by both Pakistan and China.”
“Pakistan‘s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s calls to condemn Islamophobia are hypocritical considering its conspicuous silence on the sordid plight of Uyghurs in East Turkestan. The silence on the Uyghur issue shows that Pakistan had no genuine concern on the right of self-determination. Islamabad’s hypocritical stance on Uyghur issue signifies how Pakistani government is having close ties with religious hardliners such as Jammat ul Dawa, which too had maintained a silence on the persecution and genocide of Muslims in East Turkestan,” said Seigfried O Wolf, Director (Research), South Asia Democratic Forum.
Member of European Parliament (MEP) Gianna Ganciasent in her statement on the issue said that the EU promotes human rights through its participation in multilateral forums such as the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, the UN Human Rights Council, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe. The Union also actively promotes international justice, for example through the International Criminal Court. The international community cannot remain a silent spectator.
Eventually, it was concluded that Pakistan looked very selectively at human rights issues for their own interests and this explained their silence on the issue of persecution of Uyghur in East Turkestan.