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Doesn’t Farooq Abdullah know how China treats Uighurs?

Updated October 13, 2020 15:53 IST
Farooq Abdullah

National Conference president and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah is so upset with the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that he is not averse to seeking even China’s support bringing back the controversial Article. It is astonishing how politicians lose sight of the big picture while striving for short-term partisan gains.

The senior leader made this remark in an interview to India Today. A few weeks ago, in another interview to The Wire news portal, he had said that “at this moment the Kashmiri people do not feel and do not want to be Indian. He [Abdullah] even went so far as to say that they would rather be ruled by the Chinese…”

Abdullah’s sudden love for China is startling, for it is as clear as day that the dragon hates Muslims. The Chinese Communist Party has gone to the extent of calling Islam a mental disorder, a disorder that needs to be cured. This is exactly what it has been doing in Xinjiang: a large number of concentration camps—officially called Vocational Education and Training Centers—have imprisoned over a million Uighur Muslims in the province.

Abdullah is too educated and experienced to be ignorant about the plight of Uighurs; credible reports about the atrocities against the Muslim minority in China abound in the mainstream media. No other minority in the world is suffering as much as the Uighurs are at this moment: from actual genocide to cultural genocide, they are being subjected to every form of oppression.

In 2019, 22 countries had slammed China at the United Nations Human Rights Commission for its ill-treatment of the Uighurs in the Xinjiang region: “We, the co-signatories to this letter, are concerned about credible reports of arbitrary detention in large-scale places of detention, as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, China. We recall the 2018 concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in its review of China, which expressed concern about disturbing reports of large-scale arbitrary detentions of Uighurs, and other Muslim and minority communities. We call on China to uphold its national laws and international obligations and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, in Xinjiang and across China.”

The Uighurs are not allowed to follow their religion; the authorities have ruled to proscribe “abnormal beards.” They have also banned the “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervor.” There are severe restrictions on the practice of Islam. Mosques and shrines have been desecrated.

Ateet Sharma wrote on September 26, “Ordam is just one of the thousands of important religious-cultural sites, including mosques, shrines (mazars), cemeteries and pilgrimage routes that have been demolished by the Chinese government which has embarked on a systematic and intentional campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), reveals a new report released today by the Canberra-based Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).”

Also Read | Revealed: China’s onslaught on Uyghur heritage

According to ASPI, “Using satellite imagery, we estimate that approximately 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang (65 per cent of the total) have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies, mostly since 2017. An estimated 8,500 have been demolished outright, and, for the most part, the land on which those razed mosques once sat remains vacant. A further 30 per cent of important Islamic sacred sites (shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, including many protected under Chinese law) have been demolished across Xinjiang, mostly since 2017, and an additional 28 per cent have been damaged or altered in some way.”

Farooq Abdullah is angry that most Kashmiri politicians were detained on August 5, 2019, the day Parliament annulled Article 370. This is not to say that the authorities have done everything correct since the annulment of the Article; there have been mistakes and excesses. But one has to be malicious and mendacious to compare Kashmir with Xinjiang.

Ignorance, they say, is bliss. We are not sure if Abdullah is ignorant or feigning ignorance. But he is surely shielding China whose record against the Muslims and other minorities is despicable.

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