BY JUSTIN KLAWANS
During a speech in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Elisha Wiesel, the son of Holocaust survivor and humanitarian Elie Wiesel, urged the United Nations (U.N.) to step up for Muslim Uyghurs in China.
In his remarks during the virtual presentation Thursday, Wiesel said it was "time for us to act."
Wiesel compared the oppression of ethnic Uyghurs in China's Xianjiang region to atrocities that had occurred during the Holocaust. He stated that his outspoken view on authoritarian regimes was an effort to "honor and continue the Jewish life of my ancestors, and to speak up against the antisemitism that nearly extinguished us."
Wiesel's father, Elie, was a prisoner at the Auschwitz and Buchenwald Concentration Camps during the Holocaust. Although he survived the war, his father, mother and younger sister were all murdered by the Nazis.
Following the Holocaust, Elie Wiesel became a best-selling author and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in 1993. He was also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Elisha Wiesel, the son of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, stated on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that the United Nations needed to condemn the oppression of Muslim Uyghurs in China. Here, a protester against Uyghur oppression can be seen holding a sign in the United Kingdom.JUSTIN TALLIS/GETTY
Elie Wiesel died in 2016, but his son has continued to be similarly outspoken on a variety of world affairs.
Continuing on with his speech Thursday, Elisha Wiesel criticized the U.N. for its continuing condemnation of the Israeli government. This criticism comes, Wiesel stated, as the organization continues to ignore the plight of Uyghurs, as well as a number of other genocidal regimes.
"I have met Uyghur dissidents and I believe their testimony, but we pretended that it was OK," Wiesel said.
He continued by noting the minimal measures by the United States to combat the Holocaust during World War II, using this example to criticize the modern inaction of the U.N. against the Uyghurs.
"How must it have felt to learn after the war of Breckinridge Long, the U.S. assistant secretary of state in charge of visa disbursement, who pushed [then-President Franklin D.
Roosevelt] to keep American shores closed to Jewish refugees, to learn that the Allies knew about Auschwitz and chose not to bomb the rail lines or even broadcast a radio warning to Europe's Jews that they should not, under any circumstance, get on the trains," Wiesel said.
"As the world turns a blind eye to the forced separation and cultural eradication of Uyghur families, it makes it easier for other oppressors, [such as] Myanmar, ISIS and the Taliban to oppress Rohingya, Yazidis and women."
Wiesel also noted that the Chinese government has carried out "mass detention, forced labor and forced sterilization," despite the fact that China is a member of the U.N.'s Human Rights Council.
"Will the U.N. invoke the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to investigate what happened in Xinjiang?" Wiesel asked.
The United States has imposed a number of sanctions against China for its reported treatment of the Uyghurs. The U.S. and numerous allies have also refused to send diplomatic representation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing as a form of protest.
However, Wiesel noted, even with these measures, "the Beijing Winter Olympics start next week," and he urged the U.N. and other world governments to take action against China.
Newsweek has reached out to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for comment.