Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s betrayal of Uighurs should be an eye-opener for the Muslims across the world, including in our country. The man who has the pretensions and ambitions of becoming some sort of caliph is behaving in a most cruel and selfish manner—against his own co-religionists. He is deporting the Uighurs, who had taken refuge in Turkey, to his ally China.
As Rahul Kumar wrote on this website, “Till a couple of years back, Turkey was one of the few vocal supporters of the Uighur movement and a welcoming country for Uighur Muslims who managed to escape China’s prisons and persecution. Because of ethnic affinity, Uighurs used to call Turkey their second home and have been settling there for decades. This changed once the Turkish Lira hit record lows, external debt ballooned and the economy nosedived in 2018.”
The crisis pushed Turkey into the welcoming arms of China, which was too happy to help. “The Asian giant has been repeatedly pumping in money to keep the Turkish economy afloat—weighed down under $440 billion external debt.” Sentimental claptrap for the Ummat, the global Muslim community, is good to score political points, but when push comes to shove shrewd politicians pursue their petty interests rather than the lofty ideals they claim to have embraced. So, Erdogan has no compunctions in handing over his co-religionists on a platter to his new friends, the Chinese. It doesn’t bother Erdogan that his friends regard Islam a mental disorder and, accordingly, cure the afflicted, that is Muslims.
Unsurprisingly, the Muslim majority Xinjiang region in China has become a gigantic concentration camp. The Washington Post reported on July 13, 2019, “New evidence is emerging that the Chinese campaign to exterminate the culture and traditions of Turkic Muslim people, chiefly Uighurs, in the Xinjiang region also includes a generation of children and young people. As their parents are hauled off to concentration camps—euphemistically called ‘vocational education’ by the Chinese authorities—the children are being herded into special boarding schools and orphanages. At these schools, the children can check in but they cannot leave.
The comprehensive effort to create a separate brainwashing and imprisonment system for children deepens the evidence that China is committing a cultural genocide.” On November 16, 2019, The New York Times reported: “The ideas driving the mass detentions can be traced back to Xi Jinping’s first and only visit to Xinjiang as China’s leader, a tour shadowed by violence.” He spent four days in the region, and on the last day of the trip, two Uighur militants staged a suicide bombing outside a train station in Urumqi that injured nearly 80 people, one fatally.
“Weeks earlier, militants with knives had gone on a rampage at another railway station, in southwest China, killing 31 people and injuring more than 140. And less than a month after Mr. Xi’s visit, assailants tossed explosives into a vegetable market in Urumqi, wounding 94 people and killing at least 39.” Against this backdrop of bloodshed, Xi delivered a series of secret speeches. In one of these, he said, “We must be as harsh as them and show absolutely no mercy.” His diktats have been followed in letter and spirit. Up to 1.5 million Uighurs are said to be in concentration camps. These numbers are likely to rise, as the wannabe caliph ensures that more and more Uighurs are thrown in them. Apparently to cure them of Islam, which the Chinese Communist Party regards as an ailment.
Not just Erdogan; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation or OIC, which is vociferous in condemnation of ‘Islamophobia,’ has also maintained a studied silence over the issue. In July last year, 22 democratic nations, mostly Western ones, had protested against the atrocities against and oppression of Muslims in China.
As a counter to it, Beijing arranged a letter from 37 countries, 14 of them OIC members including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which lauded China’s human rights record. “We commend China’s remarkable achievements in the field of human rights by adhering to the people-centered development philosophy and protecting and promoting human rights through development,” the joint letter said. In a nutshell, Muslim nations like Turkey and Pakistan and bodies like the OIC are hypocritical in the extreme in championing the cause of the community.