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Silence About The Oppressed In Uighur

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29th-Nov-2019       
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Amelia Charlotte :
The recent leaks on utter abuse of ethnic Uighur Muslims living in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China have shaken the world community. The graphic details of atrocities on the hapless Uighur Muslims are still emerging with vivid accounts of mistreatment of women and children in these isolated specially erected detention camps for Uighurs for their political indoctrination benefiting the Chinese Communist Party. Introduction of facial identification software is being widely used by the Chinese security forces to identify and detain Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. Scores of mothers have been separated from their children in the process. However, interestingly Pakistan the so called Messiah of Muslim population worldwide is silent because the finger has been pointed at its 'trusted' ally. It seems that Pakistan's interest in Islam is only in creating Jihadi terrorists to kill innocent people all across the world.
Pakistan has been in the forefront of criticizing India's sovereignty over Kashmir. It has left no stones unturned to raise the Kashmir issue on all major international forums including the UN. Pakistan claimed that in Kashmir Muslims are being subjected to violence and intimidation. Pakistan has been vociferously questioning India's legitimate sovereignty and its territorial integrity. When provisions in Article 370 was removed from Indian constitution to give Kashmir the real growth and Kashmiris their desired prosperity and employment opportunities, Pakistan reacted angrily and pledged to use all powers in its disposal to dislodge peace and tranquility in Kashmir.
Kashmir is the victim of state sponsored terrorism perpetrated by Pakistan and its deep state. Scores of people have been killed and maimed by Pakistan sponsored terrorists in Kashmir. Pakistan claims that Kashmiris are fighting for self determination. But when Muslims are being persecuted by the 'trusted' friend China, Pakistan's silence is risible. The so called messiah of Muslims is silent when fellow Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang are being persecuted and imprisoned. That shows hollowness of Pakistani claim and its double standard.      
Pakistan is in a peculiar Catch 22 situation. According to one analyst China is Pakistan's Central Bank and controlling all major financial issues including footing of major bill of the country. 'The People's Bank of China would take over as Central Bank of Pakistan by removing State Bank of Pakistan from all its pecuniary roles' jokingly adds an expert. Prime Minister Imran Khan who initially showed steely resolve to question feasibility of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was subdued by the all powerful China.
 According to US Assistant Secretary Alice Wells   the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would push the country deeper into an already stifling debt burden, foster corruption and repatriate jobs and profits to China.  In a speech, described as "unusually specific" by the international media, the top US diplomat for South Asia warned  that the multi-billion-dollar project would take a toll on Pakistan's economy at the time of repayments and dividend in the coming years.  The CPEC was not an aid to Pakistan but a form of financing that guarantees profits for Chinese state-owned enterprises, with little benefits for Islamabad.
CPEC's most expensive single project is upgrading the railway from Karachi to Peshawar. When the project was initially announced, the price was set at $8.2 billion," she said.  "In October of 2018, Pakistan's railways minister announced that they had negotiated the price down to $6.2 billion, a saving of two billion. And he explained Pakistan is a poor country. We cannot afford this huge burden of these loans."  "But recent media reports claim the price is now risen to $9 billion," she added. "So, why doesn't the Pakistani public know the price for CPEC's most expensive project or how it's being determined?"
The US diplomat also underlined the long-term effects in Pakistan of China's "financing practices" and urged Islamabad to examine "the burdens that are falling on the new government to manage with now an estimated $15 billion debt to the Chinese government and $6.7 billion in Chinese commercial debt".  Ms Wells also emphasised the need for Pakistan to know that China was providing loans, not grants, as the United States.  Ms Wells also challenged the notion that CPEC would create jobs in Pakistan. "CPEC relies primarily on Chinese workers and supplies, even amid rising unemployment in Pakistan," she said.  The US diplomat also demanded more transparency on the proposed link between Gwadar Port and China's Xinjiang.  She said that while CPEC would only benefit China, the United States offered a better model.
Under these circumstances, Pakistan has no option but to fall into economic slavery of China. With this predicament, they are bound to maintain a studied silence on torture being inflicted on their Muslim brethren, lest Chinese block the financial assistance, putting Pakistan deeper into abject poverty.   
What is happening in Xinjiang
The entire World community is aghast by the gamut of atrocities committed by China on its ethnic Muslim minority population in Xinjiang. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) recently obtained documents showing the abject human rights violations committed by the Chinese security forces in the so called reeducation camps in Xinjiang, where an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are held."It shatters (the Chinese Communist Party's) CCP's narrative about these camps as benign vocational training centres where Uighurs and other Chinese Muslims willingly undertake training," said James Leibold, an expert on ethnic relations in China and a professor at Melbourne's La Trobe University. The leaked government documents showed how authorities clamped strict vigil on detainees to prevent escape, double lock doors and constantly monitor detainees in China's network of internment camps in Xinjiang which refute Beijing's defense of "vocational education centers" in the region. In one document, local officials are told to monitor inmates at all times -- including during toilet breaks -- to prevent escape. Staffs are also banned from befriending inmates and engaging in "personal interactions" to prevent "collusion", the document read.
The New York Times reported, based on more than 400 pages of internal papers it had obtained, that Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered officials to act with "absolutely no mercy" against separatism and extremism. After initially denying their existence, China acknowledged that it had opened "vocational education centres" in Xinjiang aimed at preventing extremism by teaching Mandarin and job skills.
Former detainees describe the facilities as indoctrination camps that are part of a campaign to eradicate Uighur culture and religion. The leak consists of a list of guidelines Xinjiang's security chief approved for running the detention camps, along with intelligence briefings that show how police use data collection and artificial intelligence to select residents for detention. Officials were ordered to keep strict secrecy about the "highly sensitive" centers, with staff forbidden from bringing mobile phones or cameras into "teaching and management areas", according to one document. Referring to detainees as students who must "graduate" from the camps, the guidelines lay out how staff should manage their day-to-day lives, such as by ensuring "timely haircuts and shaves", while also emphasizing that the detainees are barred from having cellphones, according to an English translation of the memo posted by ICIJ. ICIJ's documents also bolstered existing reports on the "Integrated Joint Operation Platform" (IJOP), a surveillance app previously reported on by Human Rights Watch.
The Chinese have refused to share information about the detention centers, and prevented journalists and foreign investigators from examining them. However, internal Chinese government documents leaked in late 2019 have provided important details on how officials launched and maintain the detention camps. Some eight hundred thousand to two million Uighurs and other Muslims, including ethnic Kazakhs and Uzbeks, have been detained since April 2017, according to experts and government officials. Outside of the camps, the eleven million Uighurs living in Xinjiang have continued to suffer from a decades-long crackdown by Chinese authorities.
Most people in the camps have never been charged with crimes and have no legal avenues to challenge their detentions. The detainees seem to have been targeted for a variety of reasons, according to media reports, including traveling to or contacting people from any of the twenty-six countries China considers sensitive, such as Turkey and Afghanistan; attending services at mosques; and sending texts containing Quranic verses. Often, their only crime is being Muslim, human rights groups say, adding that many Uighurs have been labeled as extremists simply for practicing their religion.
Hundreds of camps are located in Xinjiang. Officially known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the northwestern province has been claimed by China since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power in 1949. Some Uighurs living there refer to the region as East Turkestan and argue that it ought to be independent from China. Xinjiang takes up one-sixth of China's landmass and borders eight countries, including Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The leaked Chinese government documents, which the ICIJ have labeled "The China Cables", include a nine-page memo sent out in 2017 by Zhu Hailun, then Deputy-Secretary of Xinjiang's Communist Party and the region's top security official, to those who run the camps.
Pakistan's studied silence over detention camps in their neighbourhood created to dehumanize their Muslim brethren reveals their real face and double speak. While events in Kashmir post August 05 abrogation of article 370 has kept Pakistan busy in false rhetoric on alleged human rights violation, they have risibility failed to take notice of developments in their own backyard or at least pretend not to have heard.

(Amelia Charlotte, freelance writer, research fellow, University of Sydney)

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