The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) considers the announcement by a number of governments the imposition of sanctions on senior officials in China for gross human rights abuses against its Uyghur Muslim population, a much welcome step.
For years, if not longer, China has been committing heinous crimes and violations including torture and rape against the Uyghurs, in defiance of worldwide condemnation. While many will see this step as a little too late, TCF sees this as a considerable step in the right direction and a firm message sent to China by the governments and nations of the UK, EU, USA and Canada.
In reaction to this news, Aziz Isa Elkun, a prominent Uyghur academic, poet and activist in London, said that for “the past 71 dark years, Uyghurs, who are the rightful owners of the Uyghur Autonomous Region (including East Turkistan, Uyghuristan and Xinjiang), has seen countless massacres committed by the Chinese state. The recent horrific revelation of concentration camps housing over a million Uyghurs in the most inhumane conditions, is a drop in the ocean of the catalogue of atrocities, and which only come to the world’s attention because of the 21st Century’s digital surveillance era.”
While naming a clutch of officials as responsible for some of the crimes committed is a positive measure, it is imperative that the pressure on China is increased so that the atrocities come to an end. China must know that the world is watching, and that the world will not stay silent amid the horrors taking place against the Uyghur Muslim minority.
Meanwhile, it comes as a great disappointment that MPs narrowly voted down, yesterday, a Trade Bill amendment that would have prevented the UK government’s future trade deals with China. Whilst fully appreciating the importance of doing business with world partners, it would be an act of extreme hypocrisy if the UK sent a message that it’s recognition of human rights crimes being committed will not hinder nor halt its pursuit for economic interests.
The Cordoba Foundation was one of the first to highlight the plight of the Uyghurs in the UK, through a range of community, media and campaign efforts. This latest development of sanctions against key Chinese officials is a vindication of the efforts of all concerned about the Uyghurs. However, much more needs to be done to see a lasting solution for the persecuted Uyghur Muslims.
The Cordoba Foundation
Cultures in Dialogue
The Cordoba Foundation has always seen the government’s strategy to counter terrorism and extremism, coined Prevent, as one which was found upon positive objectives, but has been sullied by years of misuse and politicking.
On numerous occasions, The Cordoba Foundation called for a radical review of the entire strategy, after far too many cases where it became evident that Prevent had become an information gathering operation targeting the Muslim community, rather than one which aims to guide affected youngsters, away from extremist ideas and violence.
Joining a number of community organisations in welcoming the announcement of an independent review of Prevent in hope that a radical transformation will be introduced, we shared the utter disappointment, anger even, felt throughout the Muslim community when it was declared that William Shawcross would be appointed to chair the ‘independent’ Review.
With a long legacy of anti-Muslim statements and stands, and with views that are abhorrent to the overwhelming majority of British Muslims, besides his prominent position within the right-wing anti-Muslim Henry-Jackson Society, Shawcross’s appointment will simply confirm that any engagement with Prevent, or the review thereof, would be an exercise in futility.
CEO, Dr Anas Altikriti stated this afternoon that The Cordoba Foundation has therefore ‘arrived at the conclusion that following almost 15 years of failed, indeed counterproductive approach to the issue of counter-extremism, during which Islamophobia has been on a steady rise throughout society and Muslims feel more marginalised and targeted than ever before’, ‘it is time to call for Prevent to be scrapped’.
The Cordoba Foundation hopes that Muslim organisations will see the situation similarly and will assert their respective positions by boycotting this securitised approach to dealing with the Muslims community. It is unbecoming of the government to single out one faith community for such a callous treatment, and hence play a dangerously divisive role and adopt a narrative that is sure to spread fear and hate.
The Cordoba Foundation
28 January 2021
MUSLIMS IN SRI LANKA AND THE CHALLENGES OF VIOLENT EXTREMISM