Dolkun Isa was a university student in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region when he stood up to China in the late 1980s to protest the repressive communist regime in his homeland. He drew the wrath of the Chinese government and eventually had to flee to Germany in 1994. He is now president of the Uighur World Congress, which is leading the global Uighur campaign against the Chinese government over what was known as East Turkestan before the liberation of the people. Army (PLA) in October 1949. In the midst of China’s last military attack along its disputed border with India, not far from its homeland, Dolkun Isa recounts Anirban Bhaumik of DH that New Delhi must abandon its policy of appeasing Beijing and join the world to call on the Xi Jingping regime for its atrocities against Uighurs, Tibetans and Hong Kongers as well as for its expansionist aspirations. Extracts:
How do you see China’s recent aggression along its disputed border with India?
This is just the latest in a series of aggressive and irresponsible actions by the Chinese government. While committing serious human rights violations and crimes against humanity against Uighurs and others, China has become increasingly assertive abroad. It deprives Hong Kong of its rights and autonomy, regularly threatening Taiwan, attempting to falsely claim the South China Sea and intimidating its neighbors, imposing economic sanctions on Australia for having requested an investigation into the Covid-19 pandemic , building dams on the Mekong while its downstream neighbors suffer from drought, exporting repressive security and surveillance technologies and undermining human rights and values common to the United Nations. China’s aggressive and expansionist behavior follows a disturbing pattern and threatens international peace and security. His aggressive actions are linked to his feeling of insecurity. Uighurs and Tibetans have no place in the Han-centered vision of Xi Jinping because they have a defined history, cultures, languages, religious traditions and historic homelands. It wants absolute and complete control and that is what is at the heart of its internal and external policy.
China filed a protest when India issued a visa to you in 2016. The visa was finally canceled. Do you think India should reconsider its approach to China?
The appeasement policy does not work when it comes to dealing with China. India should immediately hold China accountable for its crimes against humanity. India should call on China to respect the rights of Uighurs and to close the internment camps it has set up in Xinjiang. We have called on the Indian government to denounce human rights violations in Xinjiang and the detentions of thousands of Uighurs. But New Delhi has so far remained silent. The government of no other nation should have friendly relations with the Xi Jinping regime, which detains millions of people solely because they have a district ethnic and religious identity. To claim that normal relationships can be conducted with such a regime is unethical and naive.
Why do you think China intensified its aggression in the era of Covid-19?
China’s current actions are the result of its hyper-nationalist propaganda and to appease its own citizens by projecting its force internationally. When it feels weak, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) postures and threatens. With the pandemic, the trade war, and international attention to the CCP’s atrocities against Uighurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers, and others, the CCP is under numerous pressures, both internationally and nationally.
How should the international community react to what China is doing?
The international community must take national and international measures to hold China accountable for its crimes against humanity and its aggressive and expansionist policies. The international community must understand that China’s actions threaten international peace and stability. China’s growing influence must be fought at the United Nations, and China must be held to honor its promise to give the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights unimpeded access to the investigation of crimes against the humanity in East Turkestan. The Chinese government needs to know that the world will not tolerate its abuse of power. The governments of other countries should impose targeted sanctions on Chinese government officials responsible for gross human rights violations, as well as a visa ban and an asset freeze. Targeted national laws, such as the Uighur law on human rights policy in the United States, should be passed in parliaments around the world.
What is the latest situation in Xinjiang, particularly following the Covid-19 crisis?
The confusion and chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic allowed the CCP to divert attention from its crimes against humanity. At the start of the pandemic, the Chinese government forced the Uighurs (in Xinjiang) to stay at home but did not provide them with food or basic supplies, which caused hunger and food shortages. There has been no transparency on the potential spread of the virus in internment camps, where the Chinese government has detained thousands of Uighurs – a vulnerable captive population who have reportedly been ravaged by the virus. A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that the CPC had transferred at least 80,000 Uighurs, many of them from internment camps, to forced labor facilities in China, where they were forced to manufacture products, often for western brands. We urge India and Indian companies to investigate supply chains in China to ensure that they are not complicit in China’s use of modern slavery and crimes against humanity.
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