By Qasim Swati (United Kingdom)
“For China, Islam is a ‘mental illness’ that needs to be ‘cured’: China’s relentless campaign to erase the identity of the Uighurs continues, as the world remains silent”, this was reported by Khaled A Beydoun on 28 November, 2018, on Aljazeera.com. A similar report has been made by Eric Levitz on August 28, 2018 in The Intelligencer (a daily morning broadsheet newspaper published in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, USA), headlined ‘China Declared Islam a Contagious Disease – and Quarantined 1 Million Muslims’.
Sigal Samuel is a former associate editor at “The Atlantic” (an American magazine and multi-platform publisher, founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857), covering religious and global affairs, who is also the author of “The Mystics of Mile End”. She reported in The Atlantic on August 28, 2018, in connection with the maltreatment of Muslims in internment camps at the hands of the Chinese authorities, titled ‘China Is Treating Islam Like a Mental Illness’. The country is putting Muslims in internment camps – and causing real psychological damage in the process’. She further elaborates on the situation in the report as “One million Muslims are being held right now in Chinese internment camps, according to estimates, cited by the UN and US officials. Former inmates – most of whom are Uighurs, a large Muslim ethnic minority – have told reporters that over the course of an indoctrination process lasting several months, they were forced to renounce Islam, criticize their own Islamic beliefs and those of fellow inmates, and recite Communist Party propaganda songs for hours each day. There are media reports of inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, which are forbidden to Muslims, as well as reports of torture and death.”
These were some of the reports, in association with the anti-Muslim activities by Chinese authorities, but Islam is not the only target of persecution in China, as there are some other religions and beliefs, faced with similar restrictions as well, like Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism. These restraints, curbs, checks and controls include such acts, as demolishing the existing religious places, like mosques, churches, temples and monasteries and/or stopping building new ones; getting registered the believers and practitioners, especially, the followers of Taoism, with the state-controlled Chinese Taoism Association; severe restrictions putting in place on religious freedom, movement, assembly and speech by authorities in Tibetan areas; opposition of freedom of religions, like Christians (churches), Muslims (mosques), Taoism (Taoist temples) and Buddhism (Buddhist monasteries), etc.
The Jammu and Kashmir Lockdown of 2019 – 20 is another obvious example of human rights violations in the form of repressing and subduing the people of Jammu and Kashmir by stripping and depriving them of their basic human rights, specifically their right of self-determination, which the Indian government launched on 5 August, 2019 against the will of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and has still been in place for the last, almost, 8 months. This lockdown is referred to a security lockdown, curfew, media and communications blackout, the arrest of, almost, 4,000 people, including more than 200 politicians (even two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir) and over 100 activists and leaders from All Parties Hurriyat Conference. All this was the result of the Revocation of the Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir by scrapping Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Article 35 A of the Constitution of India and introduction of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
All the nations of the world were aware of what was going on in Xinjiang and Jammu & Kashmir and are still having full knowledge of the human rights abuses in these two regions, as the situation has not yet changed there. They knew that both such lockdowns were crystal clear examples of human rights violations, but most of the countries of the world decided to keep quiet and avoid facing the wrath and anger of both China and India in order to continue their pleasant trade and economic relations with these two main world economies. Although few countries and some human rights organisations expressed their concerns about the human rights abuses and violations in China’s Xinjiang region and Jammu and Kashmir, yet the majority of the countries turned a blind eye to the reality and ignored the plight of the Uighurs and the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
However, this was the Coronavirus Pandemic, originating from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province of People’s Republic of China, in the end of last year (2019) that placed billions of people of the world on lockdown. Due to a substantial increase in Coronavirus death toll, China put 13 cities of the country on lockdown just in January 2020, as part of its strategy to combat the pandemic. On the other hand, to curb the Coronavirus attack, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked 1.3 billion Indians to stay home for a period of 21 days, while announcing the world’s largest lockdown on March 24, 2020 (many times larger than that of Jammu and Kashmir Lockdown).
Similarly, the United States of America put some three-quarters or 25% of Americans under some form of lockdown in order to get rid of the COVID – 19 Pandemic. Italy started putting a lockdown on about 60 million people, the lockdown still being in place/60 million people quarantined. Spain is another European country, where 47 million Spaniards or Spanish people were put under complete lockdown, as announced by the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday, 28 March, 2020 from Monday, 30 March 2020 until Thursday, April 9, 2020, inclusive.
In order to stop further spread of the virus, France has been placed on nationwide Coronavirus lockdown by the French government from March 17, 2020 until, at least, the 15th of April, 2020.
Likewise, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the United Kingdom under lockdown on March 23, 2020, in a bid to fight against the invisible enemy in the form of Coronavirus Disease, now referred to as COVID -2019 or COVID – 19.
In the same way, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Germany, Iran, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Isreal and even, almost, all the countries of the world are on a lockdown in some way, where the relevant governments and authorities have imposed lockdowns on people, whilst struggling to combat the virus.
Qasim Swati is a freelance journalist, writer and human rights activist, based in the UK, and can be reached at https://qasimswati.com or mailto: email@example.com.