We want to take China to the International Criminal Court—Ugyur leader Salih Hudayar

The United Nations recently detailed human rights abuses in East Turkestan, also known as Xinjiang, highlighting China’s abuses. However, apart from Western countries, few nations have criticized Beijing. Additionally, there is complete silence from the Muslim world, which is surprising given that the Uyghurs are a Muslim minority.

Salih Hudayar, self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the East Turkestan government-in-exile and founder of the East Turkestan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM), has advocated for the independence of East Turkestan from China.

In an exclusive interview with Story from India, Hudayar talks about the UN report on Xinjiang, the silence of the powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Muslim countries like Pakistan and Turkey. He also talks about the countermeasures planned by the government in exile.

Excerpts from the interview:

IN: On September 1, 2022, the UN released a detailed report on China’s human rights abuses against its Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang. How do you view the report and why has the UN refrained from using the word “genocide”, when mass sterilization has been reported?

SH: The global diaspora in East Turkestan is disappointed with the delay and general weakness of the UN report. We are outraged by the report’s willful failure to acknowledge the ongoing genocide of our people. Overall, the UN report comes out in a much anticipated but very disappointed way. It does not seriously address one of the most horrific crimes of our century in a fair and just way.

The report deliberately omits mention of the genocide to define the real nature and gravity of the crisis in East Turkestan. Instead, he serves various China interests in a self-serving and face-saving way. It also attempts to absolve China of being held accountable for its ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples of East Turkestan.

IN: What action does your administration plan to take on the basis of this UN report?

SH: In July 2021, our government and ETNAM filed a legal complaint against China, before the International Criminal Court (ICC), for genocide and other crimes against humanity. Since then, we have submitted three additional evidence briefs, but have failed to prompt the ICC to launch an investigation due to lack of concern from the UN and world governments. However, given that the United Nations human rights report indicates that China’s atrocities in East Turkestan “may amount to crimes against humanity”, we are following up with the ICC and urging governments and parliaments to call for an immediate investigation.

In addition, we are also trying to persuade sympathetic governments and organizations to put the issue of East Turkestan on the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the United Nations General Assembly as well as the United Nations Security Council. We hope to find a sympathetic government, like Gambia in the case of the Rohingya refugees, which will file a legal complaint against China at the ICC. In addition, we are actively reaching out to governments for recognition of East Turkestan as an occupied country, like Tibet.

IN: Since the report was ignored by the OIC, Pakistan, Turkey and other Muslim countries, why do you think China is getting a pass on the Uyghur issue?

SH: Simply put, the Muslim world is silent on China’s atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turks because of their close economic relationship with China. China has effectively used the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to achieve its neo-imperialist dreams of expansion across South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Through the BRI, China has bought the silence of the Muslim world and OIC members, especially countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the Turkish Republics of Central Asia, many of whom expelled many Uighurs.

IN: Pakistan and Turkey have both been seen as torchbearers of Islamophobia even as they deported Uyghurs to China. Why do you think Pakistan helps China or Turkey helps China?

SH: Besides close economic relations with China, Pakistan considers itself an “all-weather ally” of both China and Pakistan. It is particularly dependent on Chinese funding and cooperation to stay afloat. Pakistan also sees China as an important ally in helping Pakistan assert its claims over Kashmir and fend off perceived security threats from India. For this reason, Pakistan has long cooperated with China to persecute Uyghurs.

In fact, since the mid-1990s, Pakistani intelligence and Islamist organizations have been secretly cooperating with China to cultivate so-called “Uyghur Islamists and jihadists” in order to help China hijack and present the struggle of the East Turkestan for National Independence as a “transnational Islamist jihadist movement”. .”

Pakistan has also expelled many Uyghurs, while the remaining Uyghurs in Pakistan are regularly harassed by Pakistani security forces and prevented from speaking out about the atrocities faced by their relatives in East Turkestan. While Turkey shares linguistic, cultural and even historical ties with East Turkestan, its position on East Turkestan was largely ambiguous until Erdogan’s regime came to power. Despite being home to the largest Uyghur diaspora outside of Central Asia, Turkey has sold East Turkestan to China to fulfill its own geopolitical interests in addition to securing tens of billions of dollars in loans and funding. Chinese investments.

In October 2010, China and Turkey signed a strategic cooperation agreement, including in the areas of security and intelligence cooperation. Following this agreement and the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Turkey cooperated with China to smuggle 20,000 to 30,000 Uyghurs from East Turkestan to the battlefields of Syria to use as proxies. After this joint covert operation, China used the so-called “Uyghur jihadists” in Syria as propaganda to legitimize its oppression as so-called “counter-terrorism” efforts, while Turkey used them as “cannon fodder.” against the Assad regime and Kurds. Then, in May 2014, China officially launched the ongoing Uyghur genocide as a “people’s war on terror,” pointing to so-called “Uyghur jihadists” as justification for continuing Chinese atrocities in East Turkestan.

While many Western governments and parliaments have acknowledged the ongoing genocide in East Turkestan, Turkey has refused to do so. On the contrary, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made it clear in 2017 that “Turkey regards China’s security as its own security” and that it “will not allow any activity that undermines China”. We believe that China is using Turkey to influence and control Uyghur organizations and diaspora communities around the world, as many Uyghur organizations receive funding and cooperate closely with Turkish entities that have close ties to the Turkish government. and its intelligence apparatus.

IN: In 2009, Pakistan’s largest religious party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in which JI extended its support for the one-China policy and that the two parties will collaborate on the issue of justice, development, security and solidarity. Does this memorandum of understanding have an effect on the Uyghurs?

SH: JI’s cooperation, through Pakistani intelligence, with China goes back much earlier, as mentioned earlier, many so-called “Uyghur jihadists and Islamists” cultivated by Chinese intelligence received ” Islamic education” in JI-run madrassas in Lahore in the mid to late 1990s. Some of them are the leaders of Uyghur Islamist organizations in Turkey, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Prior to 1998, the East Turkestan national independence movement was free from transnational Islamist-Jihadist ideology and had won the solidarity of the international community.

However, Chinese intelligence used Islamist groups in Pakistan like the JI to cultivate leaders of so-called “Uyghur jihadists”, later sending them to Afghanistan where they aligned themselves with Islamist groups like the Taliban and Al -Qaeda. China’s cooperation with the JI was part of a long Chinese government strategy to undermine and deny solidarity and support for East Turkestan national independence by portraying the East Turkestan issue as a transnational jihadist issue. After the fabrication of so-called Uyghur Islamist jihadists, and particularly after 9/11, 2001, China used the false pretense of “counter-terrorism” to carry out genocide against Uyghurs and other Turks.

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