By William J. Furney
The Chinese authorities have created a dystopian hellscape on a staggering scale in Xinjiang. Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities face crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations that threaten to erase their religious and cultural identities.”
So says human rights group Amnesty International, in a devastating and alarming new report released this week as it lashed out at the head of the United Nations for effectively turning a blind eye to the ongoing human tragedy in China.
“The evidence Amnesty International has gathered provides a factual basis for the conclusion that the Chinese government has committed at least the following crimes against humanity: imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; torture; and persecution.”
The report’s key points, and allegations, are that hundreds of thousands of Muslim women and men are locked up in prison camps and tortured; that millions of Muslims in the supposedly autonomous region in the northwest of the country are “subjected to systematized mass surveillance” and that Muslims there are “forced to abandon their religious traditions, cultural practices and local languages”.
The Communist rulers in Beijing deny the charges, and are surely aware that even if they were true, the world’s cheap manufacturing centre could get away with it anyway, such is our reliance on China for our gadgets and everything else we apparently need.
No one can say “boo” to the rising superpower, and not even a world desperately clambering to uncover the origin of novel coronavirus that brought the world to a halt and is an ongoing pandemic that has claimed almost 3.8 million lives so far can get proper access or information from Chinese authorities in whose land the bug originated and who have been clamping down on anyone in their country who dares speak the truth, including medics who tried to raise the alarm in the early days.
Can the world really afford China and its authoritarian leadership’s toxic ways?
“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live in fear amid a vast surveillance apparatus,” said Amnesty chief Agnès Callamard, in releasing the new report.
She said separately that UN Secretary General António Guterres had “[failed] to act according to his mandate”, and that he “has not denounced the situation; he has not called for an international investigation. It is incumbent on him to protect the values upon which the United Nations has been founded, and certainly not to stay silent in front of crimes against humanity,” she told the BBC.
Guterres, a previous prime minister of Portugal, did say back in March, however, that the UN had been holding “serious negotiations” with the Chinese about visiting Xinjiang and seeing the situation on the ground. But just like the UN’s mostly fruitless visit to China earlier this year to probe the origins of novel coronavirus, nothing much has come of the talks.
So where did UK-based Amnesty get its info for its scathing report? From 50 former detainees in Xinjiang camps, like one who told the group: “I think the purpose [of the classes] was to destroy our religion and to assimilate us… They said that you could not go to Friday prayers… You must not thank Allah; you must thank Xi Jinping for everything,” referring to the current Chinese leader in a cult of personality redolent of Mao and his destructive ways.
And if the impotent UN won’t do anything, with all its big talk, big salaries and big egos, Amnesty will. It’s launched a campaign calling on President Xi to free Xinjiang detainees, and you can sign a petition right here (I did).
Amid all this, and China’s clampdown on democracy in former British territory Hong Kong and growing aggression against Taiwan — undeniably a country but considered a renegade province by China — the thin-skinned mandarins in the lofty halls of power in Beijing are worried. They’re engaged in a PR charm offensive to try and convince an outraged world, via mouthy ambassadors around the globe, that China’s a really great place, their people — denied such basic rights as freedom of information, as much of the internet is blocked, and what is available is highly censored — are content and that there’s nothing at all to worry about.
But there is. And the stony-faced propaganda envoys are wasting their time, because no one’s listening.