Statement on China’s oppression of Uyghur and other Muslims

22 July 2020 – 1 Av 5780
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22 July 2020

This is not the first time that Liberal Judaism’s clergy and lay leaders have tried to draw attention China’s oppression of millions of Uyghur and other Muslim minorities, but we refuse to be silenced and will not be indifferent.

In Xinjiang, Western China, millions of Uyghur adults and children are imprisoned in concentration camps. Their sin? To be the historic residents of Xinjiang, where 40% of Chinese natural resources are found.

The Chinese State, in order to retain local control, is committing what has been called ‘cultural genocide’.

The Chinese authorities aim to eradicate the Uyghur’s Muslim practices and heritages, wiping them out and replacing them with the language and practices that Chinese Communist party indicate are the correct views of China.

The body of evidence for these heinous and abhorrent crimes grows daily as we witness the degradation and dehumanisation of this community. The Chinese government do not deny the existence of these camps, but rather claim that they are a legitimate response to a threat of Uyghur extremism

We hear multiple reports, which are supported by satellite footage, of tens of thousands of people being transported by train from the Xinjiang camps thousands of miles into the heart of China, to other camps from which there is a total information black-out.

Any Jew watching this footage cannot help but be drawn back into the recent history of our own people, who were transported on trains by a pernicious State authority.

We have a moral duty to act. As Elie Wiesel – the nobel laureate, political activist and Holocaust survivor – said: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

The famous commentator Rashi tells us that the commandment ‘Lo tuchal l’hitaleym‘ (that of not being indifferent) must also include “not covering one’s eyes, not pretending that one cannot see”.

For over a year, Liberal Jews have been encouraged to canvas their local MPs to act, supporting the campaign of René Cassin. We are encouraged that other Jewish groups are raising their voices too and looking to our government to act.

We are heartened too, to hear the Government begin to speak out to the Chinese authorities on this matter and we pledge ourselves to work with them, to ensure that saying never again, means never again for all people.

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