The below article was published by Insight Journal, photo credit: ETGE
PM Salih Hudayar is the Prime Minister of East Turkistan (Government-in-Exile) and the Founder of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement. He discusses: similar cases; and international law and rights.
*Interview conducted October 20, 2020.*
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: And other than Tibet and some of the concerns about Taiwan or Hong Kong, what are other similar cases or ongoing cases that the Chinese government is working towards enacting similarly to the case for East Turkistan and its peoples?
Salih Hudayar,: So East Turkistan has been, since 1950, used as a base for literally everything from nuclear weapons to military software to surveillance systems to new political programs that China wants to test programs, ethnic programs, so, in Tibet, they started with us. They started locking us in concentration camps. They started taking away our language. The international community didn’t respond. Nobody responded effectively. Now, you have half a million Tibetans sent to similar concentration camps. But China is saying that it’s ‘labour camps.’ So, now, China is admitting they’re sending them to labour camps. Half a million Tibetans have been sent to labour camps for ‘labour and training.’ This is one of those in 2020. So, all the national security laws and all the stuff like that, what they did in Hong Kong they just recently passed a national security law. They passed similar laws in East Turkistan and they were kind of gauging the international community to see how the international community would respond.
Between 2014 and 2016, they rounded up 200,000 people, men between the ages of 15 and 45 in East Turkistan. They were the first ones to go into the concentration camps and prisons on the basis that they were prone to become radicalized. They did it so publicly just to see the kind of gauge how the international community would respond and once the international community just completely ignored it. Then that’s when they started locking up millions of people and targeting them regardless of their age, whether they’re male or female, whether they’re religious or not.
Jacobsen: Now, under international law or international fundamental human rights, can you give the audience when they do read this, some of the layouts of the series of human rights violations on the level of the individual right? I’m speaking of, for example, things like forcible sterilization or even coerced or forced marriage to Chinese civilian men. These forms of violations of freedom of choice in a variety of domains. These individual human rights.
Hudayar: Yes. So, from the individual human rights perspective, they are being eradicated. Essentially the UN Charter, it guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of…, even to engage in their own political views, etc. all is guaranteed under it: a right to live, a right to worship, a right to learn their language, a right to engage in their cultural practices. These are all guaranteed. In fact, even China’s constitution guarantees people the right to practice our religion, to practice our culture, to speak our language, all these things. It’s all on paper. But effectively, what’s happening is, they are being violated.
We can’t even speak our own language in schools or in public places. Our language is no longer being taught. Women and men can’t even wear scarves because if you wear a scarf then you must be an extremist. That’s one reason why you get sent to a concentration camp. If you are male, and if you have a beard, and if you’re under 65, “Oh, then you must be an extremist. Therefore, you have to go to a concentration camp.” If you own matches, that’s illegal. You must be a terrorist, sent to a concentration camp. If you work out, and this is one of another reason, if you physically like to work out, e.g., just doing push-ups, going to a gym, you’re a security threat because you’re training to be a terrorist. You have to go to the concentration camp. If you have travelled overseas, you have to be sent to a concentration camp.
If you believe in any religion, whether it’s Christianity, whether it’s any other religion, you’re probably becoming radicalized. You have to be sent to a concentration camp. All rights are being violated. Children are being separated from their families, half a million children. This is something that the Chinese government has acknowledged. It’s to promote education, to educate and train loyal Chinese citizens. So, what they’re doing is, they’re taking away our children from pre-K up until college, teach them to be loyal Chinese citizens, teaching them to not speak their language, teaching them to hate their own people to be like, “No, these are a bunch of barbarians.” We are actually Chinese people. They were brainwashed into thinking that they were different.
To hate religion, to worship the Chinese state, these are things that are happening: Forcing our women to marry Chinese men, coercing them, in most cases by saying, “If you don’t marry Chinese men, we’re going to send you or your family to the concentration camps.” Many of the people in diaspora countries, in neighbouring countries, even in the diaspora, many of them, even here in the US, a few of them went back, bullishly went back because what the Chinese government did was they arrested their parents and then have them call those children or those relatives outside of the country and told them to come back, “When you come back, they will let you go.” When those people went back, neither those people nor their parents were ever heard from again.
The same thing happened to numerous members of my own family. In Central Asia, I told them, “Don’t go back, don’t be stupid,” because I know they got my mom. I had a cousin. They got my mom and dad. They made my mom call us and said, “They have agreed to let us go if you come back.” None of them are heard from again. There’s so much individual violation like they force DNA collection. They force the collection of DNA and biometric information. Forcibly, a Chinese official lives in your home to ensure your loyalty to promote “ethnic unity” as the Chinese government called it. It is to ensure that you speak Chinese at your home and that you don’t have any or are not engaging in religious practices or anything.
They offer you, “You’re a Muslim.” They’ll offer you drinking. They’ll bring some pork. They’ll be like, “Eat it.” If you don’t eat it, then, you’re an extremist and, therefore, you have to be sent to a concentration camp. In many cases, if you’re a woman, they’ll offer to sleep with you. They’ll be like, “Oh, let’s sleep together.” If you refuse, if you refuse that sexual harassment and the rape that follows afterwards, you’re an extremist and your whole family has to be sent to a concentration camp. There’s no type of oppression like this that is comparable anywhere in the world in the 21st century. The humiliation from the individual basis all the way through the suffering as a national. It’s not visible in any other part of the world at this scale.