“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’’Nelson Mandela
For many years, China has been carrying out a cultural genocide. Describing exactly what this constitutes is hard as it is not the mass killing of people but an extermination of their ideas and beliefs. In the Uyghur camps, detainees are bombarded with language and traditions of the country’s majority, namely the Han Chinese. This is all in their efforts to assimilate Uyghur Muslims from existence along with their ideologies.
Understanding the atrocities and trying to understand or perceive the emotions of those suffering is far from easy. Life for the millions of Uyghur Muslims is bereft of everything that makes life worth living with the first and foremost being freedom.
It urges us as students to question and think if life without freedom even classifies as life itself?
The incessant onrush of discrimination, hatred and assimilation of the Uyghur Muslim community is ever-growing. It is becoming difficult to remember the human rights violations that they are facing today because they are always worried about what’s coming next.
How can they remember anything when it’s not a life that they live there but rather just a struggle of mere survival? Of abuse by the forces who have occupied their bodies, minds, and souls?
As students privileged to live in freedom, it is important to understand and extend our voices to those who have none. Therefore, this article has been written for all those who are unable to advocate for their human rights, and while the right to freedom of speech and the freedom to be free from torture are violated, the forces will never be able to chain the minds of the Uyghur people. The occupation has barricaded and besieged every corner of their bodies but not their minds or souls as long as they continue to have faith and be strong.
Another outrageous example of disrespect by Chinese authorities for human life, of the Uyghur Muslims way of life includes the forced consumption of pork. In Islam, it is forbidden for Muslims to consume pork. Given that it is not permissible, the Chinese authorities are forcing those hostage to commit a sin believed to them to be synonymous to disobeying God. This action according to dormer detainees claims that the act is most rampant in re-education camps and detention centres. In November 2019, Xinjiang’s governor Shohrat Zakir announced that the region would be turned into a “pig-raising hub.”
When thinking of peace, of a world that is safe for all vulnerable populations such as the many Uyghur Muslim, advocating is necessary. Writing these words is an attempt to come close to expressing to myself, first and foremost, and then to others the events that led to the occupation and oppression of Uyghur Muslims. All of it makes us realize that there are religious, linguistic, and cultural differences deemed as evidence of disloyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. Despite this, their memories are their shields as they stand against the brutal blackouts of erasure. To survive, they have to remember; they have to keep their memories alive.
As a student aware of the significant disrespect for human life and gross human rights violations, from us all at Lives For Literacy, it is time to speak up to do something so that peace may be achieved; if not now, one day in the future.
Javaid Ahmad Bahar
About the Author
Javaid Ahmad Bahar is a medical student at Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College from Kashmir, India. He is also a part-time free lance photographer who has won a multitude of prizes in the fields of photography as well as medicine. He is happy to be part of the Lives For Literacy grass-roots movement along with students passionate about change in the world!