By Frances Martel
November 14, 2022
Protesters belonging to the Uyghur and other communities of East Turkistan, occupied by China, convened this weekend in front of the White House to urge leftist President Joe Biden not to forget the ongoing genocide against them in his meeting with Chinese dictator Xi Jinping.
Biden and Xi met on Monday in Bali, Indonesia, where this year’s G20 summit will begin tomorrow. Neither Biden’s public comments nor the White House readout of their hours-long meeting indicated any substantive grappling with China’s genocide of Muslim ethnic groups in East Turkistan, a region the Communist Party refers to as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The White House claimed Biden mentioned “Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, and human rights more broadly” without elaborating.
President Joe Biden (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, November 14, 2022. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
The protesters organized on Saturday by the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement said in remarks before the White House that they hoped the ongoing suffering of their people would become a priority for the U.S. government.
China has been engaging in genocide against Uyghurs and other communities within East Turkistan since at least 2017, when reports began surfacing of the construction of concentration camps that at their peak housed as many as 3 million people. Survivors of the camps have reported widespread use of torture, including gang rapes and other atrocities, as well as forced sterilization throughout the region to suppress the population. The Uyghur Tribunal, a coalition of independent international legal experts, concluded following an investigation last year that China was guilty of genocide in the region “without a reasonable doubt.”
China objects to any criticism of its genocide from abroad, insisting that it is an “internal” domestic Chinese matter.
Saturday marked the occasion of the 78th anniversary of the Second Republic of East Turkistan. The region stood as a sovereign nation twice in its modern history before China invaded and colonized it. Uyghurs and other communities indigenous to East Turkistan marked the holiday by urging the U.S. government to recognize East Turkistan as an occupied nation, thus denying China’s claims that the eradication of its people is a domestic Chinese affair.
“We call on President Joe Biden to lead the free world in making it clear to Xi Jinping and the racist Chinese government that the free world will not longer tolerate China’s colonization and genocide in East Turkistan,” Salih Hudayar, the prime minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, said at the White House event on Saturday. “We plead with world leaders to uphold their commitments to ‘never again’ and the U.N. convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide.”
“We call on the international community to intervene and end China’s 21st-century, Holocaust-like genocide in East Turkistan before it is too late,” he said.
Hudayar noted this week’s G20 summit as an opportunity to condemn China, a participant in the summit.
“With the G20 summit taking place this coming week, we urge democratic leaders who value human rights and respect the right [of nations to] self-determination … to intervene,” he concluded.
Amannissa Mukhlis, the women and family director for the East Turkistan National Movement, highlighted to the assembled crowd the particular abuses that women have suffered under this genocide given the pervasive use of sterilization to stop non-Han ethnic populations from growing.
“We all know that women have been very important for the growth and survival of nations throughout history … without them, nations wouldn’t exist,” Mukhlis said. “Women are not only the mothers of nations, but they’re also the daughters and wives and the pillars of the family, which is the most important part of the nation.”
“Millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic women have been forced to have abortions, been sterilized, and stay in concentration camps and prisons where they have been sexually assaulted and raped,” Mukhlis explained. “China has taken at least half a million East Turkistani women out of East Turkistan and put them into slave and forced labor factories in Chinese provinces over the last 20 years.”
Mukhlis also described a campaign to force non-Han women to marry Han Chinese men “as part of the plan to wipe us out.”
“East Turkistani women who refuse to marry Chinese men are sent to concentration camps, prisons, and slave labor camps,” she noted. “Even East Turkistani children have been killed by the racist Chinese government.”
The East Turkistan Government-in-Exile’s acting foreign minister, Aziz Sulayman, used his address to note the more recent phenomenon of Chinese Communist Party officials using coronavirus lockdowns to starve out populations in the region. The lockdowns have been particularly brutal in the city of Ghulja, site of a particularly large uprising, and subsequent massacre, by Chinese government officials in 1997.
In September, the Chinese government arrested over 600 people in Ghulja for taking the streets in defiance of a coronavirus lockdown that had left them with no access to food or necessary medicine. Reports of arrests have also surfaced in response to the widespread use of censored social media outlets by Ghulja residents to denounce lockdown abuses. Human rights activists and journalists have documented dozens of preventable deaths as a result of lack of access to basic medical products such as insulin or lack of food.
“As we speak, under the guise of ‘zero-Covid’ policy, the Chinese government is murdering our people,” Sulayman denounced, “and this time not just in prisons and concentration camps but, rather, they are murdering our people in their own homes. They are murdering our people in so-called quarantine centers.”
“China’s so-called ‘zero-Covid’ policy is just an excuse and it has been intentionally used as a tactic of murder and a political tool to wipe out our nation,” Sulayman concluded.