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“This Is a Genocide”: A Young Schoolgirl’s Tribute to the Uyghurs

A 15-year-old girl was among those who protested in front of the Chinese Embassy in London. Her message was one the CCP will not forget.

By Ruth Ingram

August 10, 2022

Maleeha, a 15 year old schoolgirl whose heart is broken over the plight of the Uyghurs. Photo by Ruth Ingram.

Amid the Allahu Akbar’s, the chants, the political homilies and the motorcyclists’ thunderous roar of support at the lights, a 15-year-old girl stepped forward and burst into tears.

Maleeha had no need to raise her voice, her simple message to those listening in the Chinese Embassy across the road, shuttered behind bars and double glazing, was to cry.

In front of an animated crowd of several hundred U.K. Muslims, gathered as part of a worldwide day organized by “Stand4Uyghurs” to protest against the atrocities in Xinjiang, she started to speak: “‘I thought I would2 rather die than go through the torture and I begged them to kill me.’ The words of a mother…” But Maleeha could go no further. The granddaughter of a senior figure and elder of London’s Muslim community, moved deeply by the suffering of Uyghurs, broke down.

Continuing between sobs, “A Chinese concentration camp survivor. ‘I begged them to kill me.’ One line, One story. Yet this isn’t unique, it isn’t new,” she remarked, recovering her voice. “And somehow it’s still not enough to wake the majority up.”

Muslims pray during the protest outside the Chinese Embassy in London, as a representative from Falun Gong looks on. Photo by Ruth Ingram.

Charged with writing a speech for a topic she felt passionate about for her GCSE English speaking language exam, the Coventry-based schoolgirl launched into her address, but it became apparent to everyone that this was more than simply an academic exercise. Maleeha’s research had uncovered what was clear to everyone, she was describing a human rights disaster that had shaken her to the core.

Her well crafted words spoke of the “continuous cycle of physical and psychological torment,” experienced by Uyghurs in East Turkestan (Ch. Xinjiang). Confronting the crowd: “Your biggest issue may be whether you have had your morning coffee, while in the background over 1.8 million people are suffering in the hidden camps across China,” she said. “Families in desperation as they cling to the hope that their family members are alive somewhere. Anywhere.”

“This is an ethnic cleansing, a growing genocide. Over 1.8 million people. Humans. Just like you and me. Somebody’s partner, sibling , parent, friend. You name it. Someone who meant the world to somebody.”

UK Uyghurs asking to know the whereabouts of their scientists, writers, poets and relatives who “disappeared.” Photo by Ruth Ingram.

The photos of “innocent faces” leaked from police files in the Uyghur heartland had profoundly moved her. She read out some names. “15 year old girl, Rehile Omer. My age. Perhaps your age. Reason for interment, unknown.73 year old lady, Anihan Hamit. Reason for interment, listening to Islamic lectures. Sentence length—unknown.”

“In another life this could’ve been you. Your mother. Your sister. You. Suffering a life of torment for an invalid reason,” she continued.

A young exiled Uyghur girl, whose relatives have disappeared, waves an East Turkestan flag. Photo by Ruth Ingram.

Not only Uyghurs, but Kazakhs, Buddhists, and Christians too are being persecuted for their religious beliefs, she observed. “Wearing your hijab. Attending a mosque. Abstaining yourself from alcohol and cigarettes. A personal choice, is it not? Listening to a religious lecture. Speaking your native language in public—something that holds a connection to you and your history.”

She challenged her audience, “Now you tell me the crime, pick and choose! The list is endless.”

And the punishments? Forceful abduction for “re-education.” “A life sentenced to torture, sexual abuse, including rape, forced abortions, forced consumption of alcohol and pork,” and more.

As Muslims gathered in eight countries around the world in solidarity with Uyghurs, a large group gathered in Saraçhane Park, Istanbul, home to 50,000 Uyghurs, to protest the disappearances and internment of their husbands, wives, children and compatriots in Xinjiang. Used with permission.

She cited the testimony at the Uyghur Tribunal of Omir Bekali, an innocent businessman arrested on a visit to his family. “They put needles in between my nails and my fingers, then they put iron sticks into me.” “Those scars are still there… Whenever I remember those experiences my body shakes”.

She asked the crowd why these actions had not been condemned. “Where are the sanctions and responses taken against the Chinese government?” she wondered.

“Are we that scared of letting our economy crumble by a minor amount that we are willing to let millions of lives suffer under the occupation of this genocide?” “Every human life is worth so much more.”

Uyghur women in Istanbul standing in solidarity for those whose husbands and children have vanished in the vast network of camps and prisons in the homeland. Used with permission.

She beseeched the crowd to be “thankful for the life they live.” She implored them to raise awareness and to alert mainstream media.

“Be a voice for the voiceless,” she begged.

A moving representation of the East Turkestan flag, hoisted during the worldwide rally in Istanbul. Used with permission.

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