CAIR Urges China Boycott at Rally Against Uyghur Genocide

Uyghurs of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM) hold a rally outside the
ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a rally outside the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to support the oppressed Uyghur Muslims of Xinjiang province. The group promoted the rally under the social media hashtag #CallItGenocide.

Co-hosting the D.C. rally was Free Uyghur Now, a youth coalition devoted to the human rights of Uyghurs and other Turkic people forced into concentration camps and involuntary labor programs by the Chinese government. The World Uyghur Congress and Uyghur Human Rights Project were among the co-sponsors of the event.

CAIR said the goal of the rally was to “raise public awareness about China’s campaign of violence and genocide targeting Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic minorities in the Xinjiang region, push the Biden Administration to move more quickly on the State Department’s pending genocide designation, and urge Congress to adopt the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.”

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act is a bipartisan bill that would establish a “rebuttable presumption” that all goods made in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and should be barred from import to the United States unless proven otherwise. The bill also provides for targeted sanctions against individuals involved in trafficking forced Uyghur labor.

Xinjiang provides about 85 percent of China’s cotton, and about 20 percent of the world cotton supply. As the Chinese Communist Party likes to point out, placing heavy restrictions on imported Uyghur cotton would inflict heavy costs on the apparel industry, which finds it very difficult to trace exactly where its cotton comes from. China is currently using boycotts and economic leverage to punish apparel companies that have expressed concerns about forced labor in Xinjiang.

“According to human rights monitors, there are at least 1.8 million and as many as 3 million Uyghurs and other ethnic Turkic minorities that are being detained in concentration and forced labor camps. In these facilities, they are forced to renounce their faith, stripped of their human rights, and face torture and other abuses. Through mass detention, forced labor, and forced sterilization, the Chinese government is destroying the Uyghurs’ ethnic and religious identities,” CAIR noted, calling China’s treatment of the Uyghurs “atrocious.”

At the rally, CAIR executive director and co-founder Nihad Awad said the Uyghurs have been “subjected to a genocidal campaign by the Chinese government — a systematic campaign to erase and eliminate their culture, their history, their faith, and their identity through physical abuse, torture, and sexual abuse that have been documented, or speculated highly, by so many international human rights organizations, and by different countries in the world.”

Awad said the purpose of the rally was not to appeal to the Chinese government, “because we know that if they have any common sense, we would not be here to start with.”

“We are here to call on elected people, the Biden administration, and our elected representatives in the House of Representatives and the Senate, to do what they should do: to stop the genocide against innocent people, against a whole community in China,” he said.

Awad said it would be a betrayal of the Uyghurs if governments and human rights activists concluded “China is too big to be pressured.” He urged those concerned about the fate of the Uyghurs to seek alternatives to “Made in China” products.

CAIR has been declared a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates and was named by federal prosecutors as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a Hamas-funding operation.

Rushan Abbas, executive director of the Campaign for Uyghurs, said the Chinese regime is “waging a war against humanity, against the basic rights God has given to us,” and against “our ethnicity and our religion.”

“Today we are here to tell this barbaric regime that we will be defending those rights, defending the Uyghurs, and defending our faith,” she said.

“The Chinese regime does nothing but deceive and deflect,” Abbas said, recalling a Chinese state media propaganda campaign that accused her of fabricating the incarceration of her own sister. “They justify their genocidal crimes with distortions. Yet again, the Chinese Communist Party has shown its true colors. Should we believe that a tiger changes its stripes? The CCP will pay for those crimes. In the meantime, they shame themselves. Justice will come, and we will ensure it.”

Other speakers highlighted the blatant racism in China’s anti-Uyghur propaganda and accused the CCP of persecuting the Uyghurs to seize the resources in their ancestral homeland, and as a warning to other minority groups that might defy the regime in Beijing.

A large number of Muslim nations have endorsed China’s actions in Xinjiang province. The CCP is fond of claiming that a clear majority of Muslim powers accept its excuses for the oppression of Xinjiang as a rational “counter-terrorism” exercise. China has tremendous economic leverage over many of those nations, thanks to programs like its Belt and Road Initiative. Perhaps the next #CallItGenocide rally should be held outside the embassies of Pakistan or Qatar instead of China, since everyone agrees the Chinese are not listening.


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