More than 50 Uyghur groups on Thursday called on heads of state and international organizations to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Saudi Arabia this week to condemn China’s atrocities against the Uyghurs and endanger the genocide in its far western Xinjiang region break up.
Xi, who is paying a three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia, signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, agreeing to hold a meeting between the two heads of state every two years. Chinese and Saudi companies signed more than 30 investment agreements at the start of the visit.
Xi will also attend summits with Arab countries and the Gulf countries, including the first China-Arab countries summit. Xi last visited the Middle Eastern country in 2016.
“On various occasions, Uyghur organizations have expressed their great disappointment at the silence of Muslim-majority countries on the Uyghur genocide, which involved the arbitrary imprisonment of millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps where they are forced to spread their religious beliefs and practices to give up,” the groups said in a statement.
It went on to say that authorities have destroyed or damaged thousands of mosques and cemeteries in Xinjiang, what the Uyghurs call East Turkestan, while restricting religious practices such as giving Islamic names to children, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and forcing Muslims forbidden to eat pork and drink alcohol.
In October, many Muslim-majority countries voted against or abstained on a United Nations resolution aimed at stimulating debate at the Human Rights Council on a report by the former UN human rights chief on human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
The report documented widespread abuses, including torture, arbitrary arrests, forced abortions and violations of religious freedom, and concluded that repression there “may constitute international crimes, particularly crimes against humanity.”
“These countries’ failure to provide a space for debate in the Human Rights Council, a body created precisely for this purpose, contradicts the core values and principles of Islam,” the statement said.
Saudi Arabia is the site of Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, and the Saudi royal family has the responsibility of their guardianship and facilitating religious pilgrimages there.
“close your eyes”
Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) based in Munich, Germany, said China is not only committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims, but has also declared war on Islam.
“It is totally unacceptable that the leaders of the Muslim world should sit on the same stage with China’s dictator and only talk about business and cooperation while turning a blind eye to China’s attack on Islam,” he told H Talk Asia.
Gheyyur Qurban, bureau chief of WUC’s Berlin office, said countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran have not only been silent on the Uyghur genocide, but also supported the Chinese government’s position, even at the United Nations, at the expense of their Uyghur Muslim Brotherhood .
“It is extremely disappointing to see Saudi leaders who claim to be the protectors of the two holy cities receive Xi Jinping, the main culprit of the Uyghur genocide, with pompous ceremonies and allow him to hold summits with Middle Eastern leaders to expand China’s infiltration and influence into the heart of the Islamic world,” he told RFA.
China is Saudi Arabia’s main trading partner and the kingdom serves as a major source of crude oil for China.
The WUC, one of the signatories to the statement, also urged the Saudi authorities not to return four Uyghurs detained there to China, saying their extradition would violate the international principle of non-refoulement. The practice prohibits a country that receives refugees or asylum-seekers from deporting them to a country where they are likely to be persecuted.
Saudi police arrested two Uyghur men originally from Xinjiang in November 2020 while they were in the country for religious reasons. The arrest allegedly came after the Chinese embassy in Saudi Arabia requested their extradition. Saudi authorities also arrested Abula Buheliqiemu and her teenage daughter near Mecca this March.
The authorities told all four that they were facing deportation to China.
Translated by Alim Seytoff for RFA Uyghur. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin. Edited by Malcolm Foster.