Over £50k raised to support justice for Uyghur Muslims

Over £50k raised to support justice for Uyghur Muslims

Over 200 people attended a special programme last night at the London Muslim Centre, drawing attention to the dire situation faced by Uyghur Muslims in China.

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The event raised over £50,000 towards legal efforts to seek accountability and justice for the Uyghur and other Muslim people of East Turkistan.

The People’s Republic of China overthrew the independent East Turkistan Republic in late 1949 and renamed it ‘Xinjiang’ meaning ‘the Colony’ or ‘New Territory.’ Since then, the Chinese state and its Communist Party have waged a brutal campaign of colonization and occupation that has become a genocide starting in 2014.

The Muslims of Occupied East Turkistan are subjected to forced sterilization, mass internment in concentration camps where they are tortured and starved, family separation, slave-like forced labour conditions and physical genocide, including organ harvesting and ethnic cleansing.

Dilowar Khan, Director of Engagement at the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre, welcomed guests to the event.

The evening’s programme was chaired by Dr Anas Altikriti, CEO and Founder of The Cordoba Foundation. In his opening remarks, Altikriti explained, “The Cordoba Foundation and the London Muslim Centre were the first to highlight the plight of the Uyghurs to the British Muslim community with a large rally event held in this very hall; and we pledged to take up the issue vigorously. Today is a continuation of that commitment.”

Dr Anas Altikriti

Last night’s event, jointly organised by the London Muslim Centre, The Cordoba Foundation and The Radiant Trust, was supported by more than 30 Muslim charities, mosques and community organisations.

Persecution and oppression

The event began with recitation of the Qur’an by Imam Kerim Zair, who was born in Shayar, East Turkistan; he left his hometown in 1984, and has not returned since for fear of persecution.

Imam Kerim Zair

Aziz Issa Elkun, an academic and poet who was also born in East Turkistan, addressed the audience via video link to highlight the plight of the Uyghurs, stressing our collective responsibility to take action. He spoke about the recent fire in the northwest Xinjiang region, sparking protests across China:

44 Uyghurs, mainly women and children, died in a fire recently because of China’s lockdown policies. Uyghurs were locked up in buildings and not allowed to leave, so they burned to death.

Sanctioned by China for speaking out on the Uyghurs

In a video message, Baroness Helena Ann Kennedy KC emphasised that what is being perpetrated against the Uyghur people is “genocide”. She explained that her work in Parliament has led to this “exposure” of China’s “crimes”.

Baroness Kennedy denounced the persecution and mistreatment of Uyghurs:

I have been condemning what has been happening to women, the forced sterilisation and forced rape, the raping of women in their own homes, but also when they’re in custody, the taking of children from families and sending them to schools where they will have the culture eliminated from them, the locking up of people in camps.

She explained that China currently sanctions her for speaking out against their oppression of Uyghurs: “There’s a possibility of my being arrested if I go to places where China has very strong diplomatic relations and extradition processes in place.”

Legal efforts at the ICC

Rodney Dixon KC, an international lawyer from Temple Garden Chambers, is working on behalf of Uyghurs in exile, pursuing through the International Criminal Court (ICC) those responsible for the persecution and genocide of the Uyghurs. His team is collecting evidence from victims and witnesses in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Rodney Dixon KC

On 11 November 2021, the third dossier of evidence was submitted to the ICC. It exposed the extent of Chinese involvement within Tajikistan to pursue Uyghurs, to have them deported, or even abducted and disappeared. The reports highlighted how these unlawful acts are the first steps in the genocide and crimes against humanity, which are then continued and completed in China.

Dixon explained there is legal precedent for the ICC to prosecute on behalf of the Uyghur people, drawing parallels with the plight of the Rohingya people and their mistreatment in Myanmar.

He highlighted shortcomings in media coverage:

We’ve seen how when the conflict in Ukraine hit the headlines, everyone started supporting. Although it’s going to be hard to get it to that level, we have to look to raise it as high as possible so that that action will be taken on the same basis, because there should be no selectivity or distinction between what happens in some countries and others.

Fundraising to support justice for Uyghurs

Dixon closed by saying:

We ask you to especially support East Turkistan’s efforts to obtain justice through the International Criminal Court. I think voices united can create the momentum, can create the embarrassment as well for the court, for doing nothing in the face of a genocide that can have a huge impact.

As part of fundraising for the legal efforts, Imam Ajmal Masroor, broadcaster, writer and campaigner, urged support for the Uyghur people:

There is a need for doing something more constructive than just listening. When we hear appalling crimes of rape and mass interment, we need to focus on action to help our brothers and sisters in Uyghur communities. It is through raising funds for the legal case that we can get good legal representation.

Imam Ajmal Masroor

Event convenor and trustee at the East London Mosque, Dr Abdullah Faliq, announced £54,000 was raised during the evening’s event, with many people pledging to give more. The Radiant Trust, which works across civil rights and restorative justice issues, is managing the fundraising campaign.

Dr Abdullah Faliq

Duties towards the oppressed

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, a noted American scholar and academic, spoke to guests via a video link, calling for people to have a connection to the Uyghur Muslims who are suffering:

If we do not feel that pain and suffering [of the Uyghurs], then how can we motivate ourselves to do anything if we do not feel a genuine connection with the people that are being persecuted?

He closed by supporting collective action:

This is a humanitarian cause. Do what is feasible to do, whatever it might be – whether it’s protest, whether it’s economic boycotts, whether it’s public awareness, whether it is campaigning, or specifically sending letters to various politicians.

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

The audience were then shown a video message from Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh born and raised in East Turkistan, who survived a concentration camp where she was forced to teach others imprisoned there, seeing and experiencing herself the torture and brutality that was inflicted:

During that time I witnessed China’s genocide and crimes against humanity with my own eyes. I was subject to severe torture, starvation, and sleep deprivation. They forced us to confess to made-up crimes, and forced us to take medication that sterilised us.

She concluded her chilling account by calling for strong measures against China, and for the ICC to investigate China’s genocide and crimes against humanity.

Dr Altikriti rounded up the evening saying,

The money that we’ve gathered tonight with your help, and that we will continue to gather over the next days and weeks, is going to find more witness testimonies, to get them out to where they can speak of their plight, to a place where they are safe enough to submit testimonies to Rodney so that he can fight the case in the ICC.

Imam Muzammil Ahmed from the East London Mosque closed the event with a short prayer.


Notes:

  1. The main organisers of the event were: eastlondonmosque.org.uk | thecordobafoundation.com | radianttrust.org.uk
  2. For more information about the legal route being pursued through the ICC by Rodney Dixon KC on behalf of the Uyghurs, visit: eurasianet.org/the-case-against-china-at-the-icc or tgchambers.com
Bruce Kent; The Passing of a Peace Icon

Bruce Kent; The Passing of a Peace Icon

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing away of one of the great activists of our time, Bruce Kent.
A man of great warmth who exuded charm and personified the essence of faith in his considerable stands against injustice and oppression, Bruce Kent was renowned for speaking truth to power regardless of the consequences he and his family suffered in return. It is true that the name Bruce Kent will forever be tied to the magnificent CND movement which spread across the world and gained tens of millions of supporters.
The Cordoba Foundation calls itself immensely fortunate and indeed privileged for having not only known, but worked with and collaborated with Bruce Kent on so many of the causes to which he was committed to, not least favouring understanding, mutual respect and dialogue, over violence and conflict.

The Cordoba Foundation

Saturday 11th June, 2022

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Policy Exchange report and a government rattled

Policy Exchange report and a government rattled

Policy Exchange is no average research centre cum Think Tank. It’s a conservative base that has long been identified as the most vociferous mouthpiece for Neo-Conservativism in the UK, and therefore it comes as no surprise that it got the former Prime Minister, David Cameron to pen the foreword to its recent report on the voices that expressed opposition to the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, Prevent.

It also comes as no surprise to see the list of mentions, both individuals and organisations, the report cited, in what has become a tired exercise of copy-pasting, guilt-by-association, labelling and many other traits of reports and articles of this kind.

However, going through the 89 pages of this report, a number of important points emerge which need to be highlighted and which speak of the authors and their collective sponsors, more so than it does on Prevent as a government strategy, which we are told the report aimed to defend.

The first thought that came to mind was how rattled Prevent sponsors must feel to push them to publish what is objectively, quite a poor report even by Policy Exchange’s standards. This, I say in reference to the dismal track record of this set up, which came to prominence on the back of a story (https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/2008/05/policy_exchange_dispute_update.html) in which its researchers literally fabricated evidence to implicate several UK mosques in dispersing extremist material. How it could be seen by governments and politicians as a respectable organisation given that, along with the reports The Cordoba Foundation published, is something that will need to be discussed at a later date and in some length.

https://thecordobafoundation.com/news/news-press/event-report-the-cold-war-on-british-muslims-the-instigators-and-funders/

https://thecordobafoundation.com/publications/reports/the-henry-jackson-society-and-the-degeneration-of-british-neoconservatism-2/

Back to the main theme, one would’ve assumed that for Prevent to be defended and this strategy to be upheld, the report would be full of counter- arguments to the ones put forward by its critics, and brimming with data, statistics and anecdotes all pointing to the strategy’s outstanding achievements and amazing successes over the many years since it was introduced.

Yet, the report had little else but citations of what the various critical voices have said, where and sometimes when, before adding a bit of commentary to validate the piece being ‘a report’.

Further, the fact that significant names in the neo-con, right-wing and Islamophobic spheres, including David Cameron and Sir John Jenkins in what is essentially a diatribe rather than any work of added significance to world knowledge is itself quite telling. Have these figures and their backgrounds ran out of ideas?, one could justifiably ask.

But most importantly, the fact that these prominent individuals, all of whom have a long record of claiming to uphold democracy, human rights, freedoms of expression, thought and belief, rather than pose an argument that proves the critics of Prevent wrong from a totally objective perspective, chose to go all out against those critics themselves and what they allege they represent and whom they have met in the past and with whom they might or might not have worked, as well as in my case, dedicate several lines to explain the familial tree and blood relations.

It would be fair to assume that any government policy, let alone a strategy adopted by several successive governments could and indeed should be questioned, analysed and critiqued – and if evidence was present, opposed and fought in every possible way. If every time a voice emerged criticising a law or a government policy, that voice was labelled as disruptive, rebellious and borderline treacherous, there would be no meaning whatsoever to democracy or to personal and public freedoms.

For years, the dozens of organisations, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, that have spoken against the strategy, have based their views on real evidence and on empirical data, showing clearly that the phenomenon Prevent claims it aims to tackle, is actually on the sharp rise year by year. Moreover, they have demonstrated that this strategy is having the exact opposite effect it should upon the targeted groups, i.e. the various minority communities impacted by Prevent. Rather than convincing these communities and minority groups to work with the strategy and show them that it is of benefit to them somehow, every single community targeted has suffered and felt that Prevent is simply a form of community surveillance, which brutalises and harasses those it should be befriending and gaining their trust.

The criticism levelled against Prevent is based on real evidence and clearly set out and gathered data. The children affected are real and their names and addresses known to those who are concerned. The businesses shut down are also real and so are the families obliterated, intimidated and terrorised, and the impact on communities, and indeed on British society as a whole is impossible to brush aside. For years, proof has been submitted that this is a failed, harmful and undemocratic policy, and that it must be banished, and with those who sponsored and supported it hanging their heads in shame and banned from ever holding a public role in the future.

What Policy Exchange should have published, is a report outlining the counter to all of that, and demonstrating the achievements and successes of Prevent and how Britain has gained, grown and developed because of it. Not going after the critics, like is the norm with fascist and authoritarian dictators.

This report is poor, pathetic I might even suggest. But the fact remains that it shows a dangerous trend that is gaining momentum in our public debates; you either conform to whatever the government says, or your views will be presented as dangerous, you will be seen as a threat and ultimately treated as an outsider.

Dr Anas Altikriti

CEO & Founder, The Cordoba Foundation

INSIGHTS: Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Battle for the Soul of Europe

INSIGHTS: Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Battle for the Soul of Europe

WELCOME to part two of the first edition of Insights this year, focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following Dr Dževada Šuško’s exploration of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 500-year history of peaceful, and often courageous, Jewish-Muslim coexistence; in this issue, Ambassador Vanja Filipovic warns of the dissolution of peace in the Balkans.

The timing of Ambassador Filipovic’s contribution is pertinent and evokes conflicting feelings. Whilst only last week Bosnians celebrated their 30th anniversary of independence from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a few days earlier the world watched in disbelief the start of a gruesome and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia. For many Bosnians who survived the 1992-1995 aggression by Serb forces, the terrible tragedy in Ukraine now is a grim reminder of their war and suffering.

The raging war in Ukraine serves as a stark reminder that as conflict is waged, so, too must peace be forged through the protection and defence of hard-won national and international agreements – such as those made at the end of the Bosnian war. Such agreements are critical to the existence of necessary values of the rule of law, tangible human rights, and cooperation in a diversely populated democratic nation such as Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ambassador Filipovic echoes international observers’ disappointment by raising the alarm over threats posed by the breakaway of Serbian and Croatian groups from Bosnia and Herzegovina. By drawing attention to internal and external factors that have contributed to the gradual erosion of shared governance and legal frameworks that have helped sustain peace in the region, the Ambassador forewarns of the dissolution of peace in the Balkans. He concludes that two possible paths remain for Bosnia and Herzegovina: one leading to the benefits of further democratic development and the other ending in segregation, divisiveness, and uncertainty.

Responsibility lies squarely with the international community to unequivocally condemn the deliberate undermining of peace agreements by nationalist secessionist forces, along with all conflict and oppression – no matter where in the world it occurs. History is replete with testaments of the tragic consequences of silence and inaction – whether it be aggression against Ukrainians, Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya in Myanmar, Syrians, Palestinians, or countless others.

The history of human conflict teaches us that war does not happen spontaneously, nor does it occur in isolation. There is always a series of fissures that weaken relations and preclude war, always with regional, and sometimes global consequences. The future peace of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains uncertain; but as Ambassador Filipovic argues – the soul of Europe depends upon it.

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Jewish-Muslim coexistence in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jewish-Muslim coexistence in Bosnia and Herzegovina

WELCOME to the first edition of Insights for 2022. We have recovered from last year’s covid-induced break and are delighted to present the first edition of Insights for 2022 with a two-part special, focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In part one, Dr Dževada Šuško explores the fascinating, and largely unknown history of the peaceful coexistence between Jews and Muslims in BosniaHerzegovina spanning 500 years – a mark of mutual respect and civil courage.

Forthcoming in March 2022, part two is titled Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Battle for the Soul of Europe, contributed by His Excellency Vanja Filipovic, Ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina to the UK .

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