Hundreds of thousands of people of Uyghur and Kazakh descent are being held indefinitely in extra-judicial internment camps in Xinjiang today. Prisoners are detained due to their ethnicity or Muslim faith, tearing apart families, destroying lives, and threatening culture. These are horrific developments that should have no place in the twenty-first century.
The global response to these developments, however, has been muted. Many are still unaware even of the existence of these camps. Reporting on the situation is hindered by an information blockade by the Chinese state, which denies even the existence of any such camps. And those who stand up and speak out openly against these policies may face the wrath of a rising power that is determinedly hostile to criticism.
In order to encourage greater awareness and discussion of the ongoing abuses in Xinjiang, we propose a Xinjiang Initiative open to scholars, authors, artists, and other public speakers concerned about the situation in Xinjiang today.
Participants in the Xinjiang Initiative commit to raise awareness of the situation in Xinjiang at every public event in which they are a participant. As an example of one method of doing this, participants could, at the start of public talks, acknowledge the situation in Xinjiang today as follows:
I am one of over (TBD) scholars and others who have agreed to make the following statement at public events. We would like to bring to everyone’s attention to the fact that several hundred thousand, possibly over a million, Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities are being held indefinitely in extra-judicial internment camps in Xinjiang, China. These are arbitrary detentions, based not on suspicion or proof of any crime, but rather solely on religious and ethnic persecution. These detentions not only violate international human rights standards, but also have no proper basis even in Chinese law. Facing a situation like this, China scholars and the broader academic community cannot remain silent. Thank you for your attention.
Those who would prefer to put similar ideas in their own words, or who would like to raise awareness of particular aspects of or personal stories from the camp system, are also welcome and encouraged to do so. The idea behind this initiative is simply to encourage individuals to speak out publicly to enhance awareness about the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Xinjiang today.
We are currently collecting signatures from anyone who is interested in joining this initiative: please send your name and affiliation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Seeking strength in numbers, we will publicly release the name of signatories on www.xinjianginitiative.org only if we reach a critical mass of more than a hundred participants. While we continue to collect signatures, please share your thoughts on events in Xinjiang today at all public forums in which you speak.
Thank you for lending your voice in support of those who can’t be heard.
Lecturer, Chinese Studies
Dept. of International Studies
Building W6A, Room 227
Ryde, NSW 2109 Australia