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Open Letter To Organisation Of Islamic Cooperation #StandWithUyghurs

Letter co-writers: Student Led Coalition Free Uyghur Now and Justice For All’s Save Uighur Campaign 

Download Open Letter to OIC 

In the name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the Most Merciful 

We, the undersigned organizations, express our deep concern over China’s unprecedented persecution of Uyghur and other Turkic groups and the silence of Muslim-majority nations to the crimes against humanity and genocide in the Uyghur homeland.  

Last March, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Council of Foreign Ministers adopted a resolution that “commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens; and looks forward to further cooperation between the OIC and the People’s Republic of China.” We are appalled by OIC’s commendation of China on its treatment of Muslims despite overwhelming evidence of its inhumane treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic Turkics.  

By no means are the Uyghurs and other Turkic groups treated with “care” by the Chinese government. There is instead a growing body of evidence –including witness accounts, satellite imagery and leaked government documents –of the Chinese government’s efforts to destroy the Uyghurs’ ethnic and religious identity through mass detention, forced labor and forced sterilization among other grave human rights abuses. 

Despite evidence of China’s widespread repression of Muslims, just several months after its Council of Foreign Ministers’ resolution, more than a dozen OIC states signed a Chinese government-promoted letter supporting China’s policies in the Uyghur homeland. The letter—issued in response to a joint statement by 22 States in the United Nations Human Rights Council expressing concerns about massive rights violations and calling for investigations— applauds China’s “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.” 

The letter parrots Chinese government propaganda, stating “faced with the grave challenges of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers.” It is extremely unfortunate that OIC states would condone China for the detention of millions of Muslims in “vocational education and training centers” –euphemisms for mass concentration camps –as counterterrorism measures. Moreover, any claims that China is engaged in counter-terrorism operations are pure propaganda by the Chinese government and debunked by the United States’ government’s removal of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement from the list of terrorist organizations. Notably, Chinese authorities were and continue to use the defunct East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which scholars state such an organization never existed, as their primary basis for their genocide and crimes against the Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims.    

The Chinese government, in legislation and in practice, purposefully conflates extremism and terrorism with quotidian religious practices and expression, and has detained Uyghurs en masse for such expression. The 2017 Regulation on “De-extremification” explicitly criminalises basic tenets of Islam practiced by Uyghurs and other Turkic groups.

As the international body that asserts itself as the “collective voice of the Muslim world” and “endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world,” the OIC has a religious and moral obligation to condemn atrocities, not support them, and to advocate for the rights of Muslims all over the world, including the millions of Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims suffering grave abuses in their own homeland. 

Here is a highlight of some of those abuses: 

Mass arbitrary detention

At least 1.8 million and as many as 3 million Uyghur and Turkic Muslims have been detained in what the Chinese government calls “vocational education facilities,” where they are forced to renounce their faith, demonstrate loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party, and face torture and other abuses according to reports by human rights monitors and international media. In reality, these are concentration camps. 

Forced labor and displacement 

Camp detainees and many young residents of rural communities across the Uyghur homeland have been subject to forced labor. A report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) earlier this year estimates that nearly 80,000 Uyghurs were forcibly transferred out of their homeland and into mainland China to work in factories that are part of the supply chains of more than 80 well-known global brands, including Apple, Amazon, Nike, and Volkswagen. 

Intergenerational family separation 

By the end of 2019, at least half a million Uyghur children had been separated from their families and placed in state facilities where they, like those in the detention camps, are subject to CCP indoctrination. 

Destruction of mosques and attack on religious expression 

ASPI have used satellite imagery to estimate that approximately 16,000 mosques have been destroyed or damaged in the Uyghur homeland as a result of the Chinese government’s policies. Important sacred sites, including shrines, cemeteries, and pilgrimage routes, have also been demolished since 2017. The destructions compound other efforts to destroy the Uyghur people’s religious identity, including a nearly complete ban on religious expression with headscarves, sporting of beards, observance of Ramadan, praying, and reading of the Quran –all punishable by detention. Even in their homes, Uyghur families are subject to surveillance by CCP cadres who live and sleep with them to monitor their religious and cultural activities. 

The Chinese government has been replacing the minarets of mosques by Chinese flags, replacing Qurans with CCP official propaganda books. This is part of the “sinicization’’ policy of the Chinese government, with the aim to purge these religious sites from any “foreign’’ elements.

Criminalisation of Religious Practice

The right to religious education has also been severely curtailed, including parental liberties on education of children. Uyghurs are not permitted to hold religious gatherings privately in their homes or instruct their children in the spirit of Islam. Parents are prohibited from choosing Muslim names for their children. Anyone who enters mosques is carefully monitored through security checkpoints. In addition, imams and other religious leaders are appointed by the state and their teachings are closely scrutinized.

Restrictions on Uyghurs fasting during Ramadan have become more systematic since 2012. Restaurants are required to stay open, police must monitor homes where the lights are turned on before dawn, students are forced to eat in front of their teachers, and opportunities to attend prayers are limited. In some cases, Uyghurs are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol during the month of Ramadan.

Widespread forced birth control and genocide 

While many human rights monitors and policymakers condemned China’s mass detention and forced labor policies as crimes against humanity, recent reports of mass forced sterilizations, birth control and abortions has help catalyzed serious discussions of China’s unprecendented persecution of the Uyghur people as genocide. Independent investigations based on Chinese government data suggests a draconian policy to curb the Uyghur population with forced steralization, abortions, and contraception. Between 2015 and 2018, birth rates in Hotan and Kashgar –two of the most dense Uyghur prefectures –dropped by more than 60 percent while birth rates plunged by nearly 24 percent last year across the entire Uyghur homeland. In comparison, birth rates declined by 4.2 percent in China. 

We strongly urge the OIC and its member states to join the international community in condemning China and demanding accountability for the abuses highlighted in this statement. 

Specifically, we call on the OIC to: 

  1. Uphold its the Charter which states, in part that Members will “preserve and promote the lofty Islamic values of peace, compassion, tolerance, equality, justice and human dignity” and “to enhance and strengthen the bond of unity and solidarity among the Muslim peoples;” 
  2. Publicly and unequivocally condemn China for its crimes against humanity and genocide of the Uyghur and Turkic Muslims; 
  3. Cease engagement with the Chinese government’s propaganda that is meant to whitewash its human rights violations against Uyghurs; 
  4. Provide refuge and protection for Uyghur refugees; and 
  5. Support UN and other independent international investigative efforts to force China to comply with international human rights obligations;

Muslims are called on to stand for justice and to support those who are oppressed regardless of how rich and mighty their oppressors may be. We urge the OIC to stand firm on these Islamic principles. 

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both.”  -Quran, Surah An-Nisa 4:135

Signatories

Uyghur Organizations (American or International): 

Alberta Uyghur Association, Canada

Australian Uyghur Association, Australia

Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association, Australia

Belfast for Uyghurs and Foundation for Uyghur Freedom, Ireland

Campaign for Uyghurs, USA

Doğu Türkistan İli Meşrep Uygur Vakfı, Turkey

East Turkistan Association of Canada, Canada

East Türki̇stan i̇mi̇grsnts Assosi̇ati̇on, Turkey

İsa Yusuf Alptekin Foundation, Turkey

Japan Uyghur Association, Japan

Justice for Uyghurs, Switzerland

Justice4Uyghurs, USA

Malaysia4Uyghur, Malaysia

QUYB, Kazakhstan

Save Uighur Campaign

SoCal Students for Uyghur Justice, USA

Uyghur Academy of Australia, Australia

Uyghur Academy, Turkey

Uyghur Association of Victoria, Australia

Uyghur Forum, Germany

Uyghur Human Rights Project, USA

Uyghur Projects Foundation, USA

Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, Canada

Uyghur Transitional Justice Database, Norway

Uyguur Academy USA, USA

World Uyghur Congress, Germany

 

US Muslim Organizations: 

American Muslim Bar Association, USA

American Muslim Empowerment Network, USA

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), USA

Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), USA

Islamic Association of North America (IANA), USA

Islamic Center of Detroit (ICD)

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), USA

Islamic Leadership Institute of America, USA

Islamophobia Studies Center, USA

Isuroon, USA

Justice For All

Muslim American Society MAS, USA

Muslim Doctors Association & Allied Health Professionals

Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), USA

Muslim Public Affairs Council, USA

Muslim Youth for Positive Impact, USA

National Muslim Youth Activists, USA

New York Majlis Ash-Shura, USA

Yemeni Alliance Committee NY chapter, USA

Young Muslims, USA

 

International Muslim Organizations 

Ashraf Chehata Orthopaedic Surgeon, Australia

Australian Malayalee Islamic Association, Australia

CAGE, UK

Council of European Muslims, Belgium

European Muslim Forum, Russia and Belgium

Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO), Belgium

Global Peace Mission (GPM) Malaysia, Malaysia

International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education (WAFIQ), Malaysia

International Association for Women’s Advocacy and Human Rights Malaysia, Malaysia

Islamic Council of Victoria, Australia

Islamic Information & Services Foundation, Malaysia

Islamic Society of South Australia, Australia

Justice for All, Canada

Kelab Inspirasi Muslimah Cakna Antarabangsa (INSPIRE), Malaysia

Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Malaysia

NATRAH, Malaysia

Pokolan setia, Malaysia

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Australia

The Global Imams Council, Iraq

Yaseen Youth Development, UK

Yayasan Kasih Tauhid, Shah Alam Selangor, Malaysia

 

Student Groups

Amnesty International at Rhodes College, USA

Atlanta Ahlul Bayt Student Association, USA

Apex High Muslim Student Association, USA

Borough of Manhattan Community College Muslim Student Association, USA

Brown Muslim Students’ Association, USA

Burst the Bubble, UK

Central Connecticut State University Muslim Student Association, USA

Central Washington University Muslim Student Association, USA

City College of New York Ahlul Bayt Student Association, USA

Colorado State University Muslim Student Association, USA

Columbia University Muslim Students Association, USA

Dalhousie Muslim Student Association, USA

Duke University Muslim Students Association, USA

Dulles Muslim Student Association, USA

Emory University Muslim Student Association, USA

Endield Muslim Student Association, USA

Farmington High School Muslim Student Association, USA

Foster Muslim Student Association, USA

Fregit srl, Italy

George Mason University Muslim Student Association, USA

Georgetown University Muslim Student Association, USA

Georgia State University Muslim Student Association, USA

Georgia Tech Muslim Student Association, USA

Harvard Islamic Society, USA

Illinois Institute of Technology Muslim Student Association, USA

Indonesian Muslim Society, Australia

Islam on Campus, USA

Islamic Society of Boston University, USA

John Jay Muslim Student Association, USA

La Salle University Muslim Student Association, USA

Long Island University Muslim Student Association, USA

McGill Muslim Student Association, Canada

Midwest Muslim United Student Association, USA

Model Youth League, Germany

Muslim Student Association West, USA

National Union of Malaysian Muslim Students, Malaysia

New York Law School Muslim Law Students Organization, USA

North Central College Muslim Student Association, USA

Ontario College Art and Design University Muslim Student Association, Canada

Oregon State University Muslim Student Association, USA

Palestinian Medical Forum – Student Branch, Palestine

Penn State Abington Muslim Student Association, USA

Plano Senior Muslim Student Association, USA

Pleasant Grove Muslim Student Association, USA

Rhodes College Muslim Student Organization, USA

Rutgers University Muslim Public Relations Council, USA

Students for Justice in Palestine City College of New York, USA

Temple Muslim Student Association, USA

Tufts Muslim Student Association, USA

UCLA Muslim Student Association, USA

University of California, Berkeley Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Cincinnati Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Colorado Boulder, Muslim Student Assosiation, USA

University of Connecticut, Hartford Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Connecticut, Stamford Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Illinois Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Manitoba Muslim’ Student Association, Canada

University of Maryland Muslim Student  Association, USA

University of Massachusetts, Boston Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Nevada, Las Vegas Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Ottawa Muslim Student Association, Canada

University of Pennsylvania Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Rhode Island Muslim Student Association, USA

University of San Diego Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Toronto, Mississauga Muslim Student Association, Canada

University of Toronto, St.George Muslim Student Association, Canada

University of Virginia Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Washington Tacoma Muslim Student Association, USA

University of Windsor Muslim Student Association, Canada

Washington State Muslim Student Association, USA

Wilfrid Laurier University Muslim Student Association, Canada

William and Mary Muslim Student Association, USA

Xavier University Muslim Student Association, USA

Yale University Muslim Student Association, USA

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