Government urged to intervene in plight of Uighurs
PETALING JAYA: NGO Global Peace Mission Malaysia (GPM) today urged the government to intervene in the plight of Uighur Muslims amid reports of oppression against the community in the Xinjiang province.
GPM CEO Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Samsudin said about a million Uighurs were recently reported to have been detained by Chinese authorities.
Speaking at a forum here titled “Uighurs’ Plight: Countering Extremism or Religious Discrimination”, he said many Muslim countries had remained silent on the issue with the exception of Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh where a few demonstrations have been held.
Global Peace Mission Malaysia CEO Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Samsudin.
He claimed the authorities have been vocal on issues related to Palestine and Syria, but not the Uighurs, adding that access to information on the issue is largely restricted as China practises a “closed system”.
“It may not be easy, but we believe that there is a way for the government to speak up on the issue through diplomatic ties.
“In the Asean context, we work closely with China. Maybe the government can use that platform to raise the issue,” he said.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organisations (Mapim) likewise urged Putrajaya to hold discussions with China on the alleged mistreatment of Uighur Muslims in the country.
“We care about diplomatic ties, but the obvious oppression is there,” Mapim president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid said.
“We need advocacy from the government side.”
Alexander Wain, a research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia, said the situation in Xinjiang must be understood within the regional context.
“What happens there is not so much about religious discrimination,” he said.
“While the Uighurs originated from far beyond China’s borders and possess a unique cultural identity, they are currently citizens of China and must accept that reality.”
He added however that the Chinese government should recognise the right of the Uighurs to cultural self-determination, saying oppression will only encourage extremism instead of reducing it.
He, too, said Malaysia has a role to play as China relies heavily on the country.
“They depend on the ships that come through, as Malaysia is located next to the Melaka Straits.
“Malaysia has a voice in this issue. It should try to reach a resolution by raising this and making sure the Chinese government hears it.”