Muslim leaders and other communities around the globe are standing silent over the misery of Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, the western part of China.
The debate here arises, why are Muslims nationwide silent over the atrocities of Uighur Muslims? Here, I am trying to figure out few reasons why the Muslim world remains mum over the humanitarian crisis.
Xinjiang, the autonomous area of China is home to approximately 10 million Uighur Muslims. The report by the United Nations Human Rights Panel of August 2018 said that more than 1 million Uighur Muslims are being imprisoned in order to be indoctrinated. The Chinese Communist Party considers Uighur Muslims as mentally ill because they grow beard, pray to God and ban them to fast during the sacred month of Ramadan.
The recent ban on fasting in the month of Ramadan is not even condemned by the so-called leaders of Muslim countries. Only few media outlets have pointed fingers over the issue and raised their point of view.
In the so called re-education camps, Uighur Muslims are forced to listen ideological lectures and sing hymns praising the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese paint Uighurs as a terrorist threat as well as a separatist threat. Uighurs are Turkish speaking people and follow moderate interpretation of Sunni Islam.
The only concrete reason behind remaining mute and lenient towards China by the broader Muslim world is their "national interest". Because China is the world's second largest economic power and top trading ally of 20 states among 57 member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The only nuclear power state among Muslims is Pakistan and is considered as the saviour of the Islamic world. Islamic preachers around the globe praise Pakistan as their guardian. But being a pre-eminent player in the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative by China, they are not paying much heed towards the grappling conditions of the ethnic Uighur Muslims of China. The CPEC's (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) initial budget was $46 billion but it is expected to cross over $100 dollars and that is why Pakistan is paying a blind eye and deaf ear towards the plights of Uighur Muslims.
During the visit to Turkey this January, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked a question in an interview by TRT world. The interviewer asked Khan that since he was doing business with China did that mean that he would not criticize them for what they were doing to the Uighurs? Khan said in a low tone, "Frankly I don't know the exact situation of this issue because I have been in power from the last four months. It is by the intensity of the other issues which we faced through these months but the Chinese have been a breath of fresh air for us which I can't even tell in words."
But when asked about the Kashmir issue and relations with India, Khan pontificated the Kashmir issue, which usually other Pakistani leaders do. But only for their own interests.
The guardians of Muslims in the world especially for Kashmiris are tongue-tied in highlighting and assisting issues of Uighur Muslims. It is because of the national interest which they are pursuing by the hands of China. One must consider it as hush money which China is investing on Pakistan.
Several states of Middle East and Central Asia are a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative. The Uighur Muslims are the victims of this initiative as no one is taking their crisis seriously.
Turkey, having a major Muslim population has spoken up against China's treatment of its Uighurs in the past. China however, immediately forced Turkey to stop distorting facts and warned saying that it may derail and poison economic ties.
Irony is that Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman has actually defended China's right to place Uighurs in these camps, for their "national security."
Due to the national interests, Uighur Muslims feel hapless. They are disheartened by the lack of support but are still holding a hope for knack at international platform. A number of attacks have been alleged on the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang in the past by the Communist Party of China. As of now, no country has taken any action. None even issued critical statement regarding these internment camps where they are tortured physically and mentally.
Muslim states across the world need to immediately start their movement against this human rights violation by China. Muslim countries must stand collectively against these so called re-education camps before it leads to repression on ethnic lines which might inevitably lead to an invigoration of national feeling, with varying degrees of violence. Because to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Time to act before world organizations declare the struggle of ethnic Uighurs as global or Islamic terrorism.