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Uygurs and other Muslims in UAR are paying the human cost of China’s belt and road plan

Former camp prisoner Omer Bekali wears chains and is overcome by emotion as he talks about re-education camps in Uyghur Autonomous Region (UAR), during a news conference of the World Congress of the Uygurs and the Society for Threatened Peoples, on March 11 in Berlin.

  • Repression has escalated in Uyghur Autonomous Region (UAR) after President Xi Jinping came to power and introduced the belt and road strategy
  • In China’s efforts to assimilate the Uygurs to ensure the project’s success, the region has been turned into an open-air prison

As a member of the Uygur community in Norway, I would like to express our disappointment at the opinion piece from Norwegian politician Thore Vestby, titled “Why Europe shouldn’t fall for American hype against China’s belt and road plan” (March 26).

Mr Vestby dismisses China’s abuses as merely part of a geopolitical struggle. For the Uygur people, this is certainly not the case. Behind the politics are real people who are the victims of an often brutal, authoritarian government. Furthermore, abuses perpetrated by one state do not excuse those committed by another.

I urge readers to consider the human costs of China’s policies. At the moment, reliable sources estimate that between one and two million Uygurs and other Turkic Muslims are arbitrarily detained in internment camps in the region.
Our friends and families have disappeared into these camps and we still do not know if they are dead or alive. Former detainees have said many have been tortured.

One of the primary reasons for this persecution is the “Belt and Road Initiative” that Mr Vestby enthusiastically touts. There has been a dramatic escalation of repression in the past five years, coinciding with the appointment of President Xi Jinping, who first introduced the global project.

Time for China scholars to speak up on rights abuses in Uyghur Autonomous Region (UAR)

Due to the strategic location of the Uygur homeland as China’s gateway to the rest of the world, the region is now the jumping-off point for the belt and road strategy. In China’s efforts to assimilate the Uygur population to ensure the project’s success, the region has been turned into an open-air prison.

Mr Vestby also dismisses the real purpose of the camps, suggesting they are intended to protect against terrorism, a blatantly false and irresponsible statement – given the information available. Many of those held in the camps are scholars, comedians, athletes, businessmen and ordinary citizens, representing a broad range of backgrounds and ages.

China denied the existence of the camps even when a UN Committee raised the issue in August 2018, a case built on satellite imagery and eyewitness testimony. Since then, China has changed its narrative numerous times to avoid scrutiny.
I urge Mr Vestby to look beyond the political discourse to see the human beings affected. This is not something happening in a far-off corner of the world that can be ignored, it is having a real impact on millions of people.

Adiljan Abdurihim, secretary, Den norske Uighurkomiteen (Norwegian Uygur Committee), Oslo

Note: Xinjiang is changed as Uyghur Autonomous Region (UAR) in this article

New Source: https://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/3004341/xinjiang-millions-paying-human-costs-chinas-belt-and-road-plan?fbclid=IwAR0-xBAqYR-PpYKvaGnHHxxcdy_tH4oek35Y4Mi6JphN6HfiPw2YxxRdjHg

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