EXCLUSIVE – East Turkistan Leader: Tesla’s Presence in Uyghur Region Makes It ‘Accomplice’ to Genocide

musk migrant workers
Ding Ting/Xinhua via Getty

Elon Musk’s business dealings in China — and occupied East Turkistan in particular — make his car company Tesla an “accomplice” to the ongoing genocide of the region’s indigenous population by the Communist Party, Salih Hudayar, the prime minister of the East Turkistan government-in-exile, told Breitbart News on Thursday.

Hudayar, who is also the founder and president of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, was responding to Musk’s whirlwind tour of Beijing and Shanghai this week, which featured multiple meetings with high-level Communist Party officials, a stop at the Tesla “gigafactory” in Shanghai, and a 16-course feast at one of Beijing’s swankiest restaurants, according to Chinese state media.

Musk did not visit East Turkistan, which the Chinese regime refers to using the Mandarin name “Xinjiang,” but Tesla opened a car showroom in the region’s capital, Urumqi, last year. The Chinese state-run Global Times celebrated the showroom as an explicit rebuke to those who object to the genocide and a signal to other foreign businesses that they, too, should ignore human rights atrocities.

Musk used his visit to China to oppose “decoupling,” meaning the process of ensuring America is not dependent on China’s slave-driven supply chains for its economy to succeed, and to praise the “intelligent and diligent Chinese people.” Musk has celebrated the Chinese in the past in contrast to “entitled” and “complacent” Americans. Chinese state media outlets declared Musk’s visit, which ended on Thursday, a green light for other American business leaders to invest in the success of the Communist Party rather than that of their own countries.

No reporting on Musk’s travel to China indicates at press time that he raised the issue of China’s human rights atrocities, including the Uyghur genocide.

“With a showroom in Urumchi, the capital of Occupied East Turkistan, and increasing presence in China, Tesla’s economic endeavors directly contribute to the brutal genocide of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples,” Hudayar told Breitbart News on Thursday, noting that the electric vehicle industry, specifically, contributes to the enslavement of Turkic people in the region.

“Tesla’s demand for lithium batteries is feeding the very system that exploits these victims. Most lithium used in Tesla batteries comes from occupied East Turkistan,” Hudayar explained. “Chinese companies, including Tesla’s main supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), have invested $2 billion in lithium mining and production in East Turkistan, further exploiting East Turkistan’s resources while fueling the genocide.”

“The harsh reality is that Uyghurs are subjected to forced labor, if not outright slavery, in extracting lithium for Tesla’s benefit,” Hudayar continued. “Tesla’s actions make them an accomplice in China’s horrifying campaign of genocide.”

Hudayar demanded that Tesla “be held accountable for their role in perpetuating the Uyghur Genocide. It’s time for them to confront the consequences of their business ventures and stand up for the oppressed.”

Matthew Perdie, Jack Knudsen

The East Turkistan government-in-exile, of which Hudayar serves as prime minister, represents the people of the region and is independent of the Communist Party of China. The East Turkistan National Awakening Movement promotes the independence and sovereignty of the region on the grounds that, prior to Mao’s conquest in 1949, the East Turkistan Republic operated independently from Beijing. Urumqi is over 1,700 miles west of Beijing and has no meaningful cultural or political ties to the capital independent of Communist Party colonization.

The government-in-exile formally condemned Musk’s visit to China on Thursday, and particularly his remarks against “decoupling” from China.

“Tesla’s expansion in China, its presence in Occupied East Turkistan, and its opposition to ‘decoupling’ raises alarms, especially considering the ongoing Uyghur Genocide and Uyghur Slave/Forced Labor in Tesla’s supply chains,” the government said in a statement.

“The alliance between Elon Musk and China’s genocidal regime highlights Tesla’s blatant lack of acknowledgment for the ongoing Uyghur Genocide and the slave labor of millions of innocent people, who are being exploited for the company’s benefit,” President Ghulam Yaghma said.

The Uyghur Tribunal, an independent collective of human rights attorneys and experts on crimes against humanity, ruled in 2021 that China was “beyond a reasonable doubt” guilty of genocide in East Turkistan through “acts of unconscionable cruelty, depravity, and inhumanity.” The tribunal granted a platform to the survivors of the Communist Party’s hundreds of concentration camps in the region to detail their experiences, which the Tribunal described in its report.

“Women detainees have had their vaginas and rectums penetrated by electric shock rods and iron bars. Women were raped by men paying to be allowed into the detention centre for the purpose,” the Tribunal wrote. “One young woman of twenty or twenty-one was gang raped by policemen in front of an audience of a hundred people all forced to watch.”

Matt Perdie / Breitbart News

Other torture confirmed through documented evidence at the camps included “pulling off fingernails; beating with sticks; detaining in ‘tiger chairs’ where feet and hands were locked in position for hours or days without break; confined in containers up to the neck in cold water; and detained in cages so small that standing or lying was impossible.”

The Tribunal declared China guilty of genocide not just because it is killing and torturing Uyghurs in camps, but because it is engaging in mass sterilization, forced abortion, and infanticide campaigns to kill Turkic children. Kazakh and Kyrgyz minorities have also endured the brutality of the genocide; some eyewitnesses say that Han communist officials have sterilized entire villages full of women.

Outside of the camps, the Chinese government enslaves thousands of Uyghurs, selling them in online forums to regime-friendly companies.

“On Chinese websites, there are dozens of postings advertising Uighur [sic] labour, in batches of 50 to 100 workers,” Sky News reported in 2021.

These slaves are often bused to factories across the country or, within East Turkistan, forced to pick cotton or mine for lithium.

A study published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in 2020, titled Uyghurs for Sale, implicated 82 multinational corporations – including household names such as Apple, Nintendo, and Nike – in the use of Uyghur slaves. In March, the U.S. State Department revealed in an annual human rights report that the genocide persisted in East Turkistan throughout 2022.

The East Turkistan National Awakening Movement will participate in a protest in front of the White House on Sunday calling for action against the Uyghur genocide, including reliable bans on slave-made products from entering the U.S. market. This weekend marks the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, in which the Chinese government killed an untold number – some estimates place the toll in the hundreds of thousands – for peacefully protesting against communism in Beijing.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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