- Pubblicato Lunedì, 06 Gennaio 2020 23:45
In Tokyo, a Japanese comic book telling the powerful and tragic tale of a 29-year-old Uighur woman from China has become a surprise viral hit.
"What has happened to me — A testimony of a Uyghur woman" recounts the story told by Mihrigul Tursun, a member of the Muslim minority in western China that has faced relentless crackdowns from authorities in Beijing.
The manga — as all comic-style works are known in Japan — describes Tursun's imprisonment and torture by the Chinese government, the death of one of her young children while in custody, and of the jailing of her husband for 16 years.
The manga, drawn by Japanese artist Tomomi Shimizu, has been translated into English, Chinese and Uighur. Shimizu said it has now been viewed on her website more than 240,000 times, and her tweets have drawn more than 2.6 million likes, retweets and other online engagement.
It has been cited by pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Hong Kong and generated feedback from the United States to Europe, from Russia to Taiwan.
China has incarcerated at least 1 million Uighurs in camps reeducation camps in its western Xinjiang region. The mass internment is framed by Beijing as a war on extremism, but it has been widely denounced as an attempt to stamp out Uighur culture and Islam and replace it with devotion to President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.
Shimizu has not been in direct contact with Tursun, who now lives in the United States with her two surviving children But the artist says she was inspired after hearing about the repression of the Uighurs and then hearing Tursun’s story.
“I thought, ‘What can I do?’” she said. “I started drawing cartoons 20 years ago, and I thought, ‘I can do manga.’”
It begins with Tursun’s marriage in Egypt five years ago, and of the birth of healthy triplets.
In 2015, Tursun she flew to her hometown in China with her triplets to see her parents. “But as soon as I arrived at Urumqi airport, I was handcuffed and put a dark sack over my head,” the manga quotes her as saying. “My triplets were separated from me.”
Tursun says she had “no idea” what she was supposed to have done wrong. “Of course I didn’t commit any crime.”
She says was interrogated and tortured with electric shocks, before eventually being given the dead body of her eldest son. All three children bore scars of being operated on in their neck areas, she said — a doctor told her this was done to insert feeding tubes.
Soon after being released, Tursun was detained again and taken to a crowded prison camp, where she was repeatedly beaten and deprived of sleep.
“During day time, we had to pray to the Chairman of the Communist Party to live long, and sing songs hailing the communism,” she said. “They forced us to take different kinds of unknown pills and have injections every single day.”
Tursun was sent to a mental hospital after losing consciousness during a beating and then released a second time, only to have two Chinese cadres living in her home, eating her food and following her everywhere. She was soon detained a third time, forced to wear an orange prison uniform and told to prepare for her death in prison.
Finally, only because her children hold Egyptian citizenship, she was released to take them back to that country.
But, in a cruel twist, 26 of her relatives were then detained by the Chinese government, and she was told they will only be released if she returns to China within two months, she said.
Shimizu first heard about China’s treatment of the Uighurs on news show on a TV documentary, and her first manga on the subject in May was called “No one will say the name of that country.”
In it, she described the destruction of mosques, the establishment of a surveillance state, the disappearance of young men, the ripping apart of families as internment camps are established — and finally the arrest of one woman for daring to call her land “East Turkestan,” a term used by Uighur separatists to refer to Xinjiang.
That manga brought her to the attention of Uighurs living in Japan, and she heard Tursun’s story at an event organized by Amnesty International and Meiji University.
Shimizu says her manga has had some coverage in Japanese media but not much, with one scheduled television appearance canceled at the last minute. Similarly, she says several editors are keen on publishing the manga, but she has been told publishers are reluctant.
She suspects self-censorship and business ties with China make the story a little too sensitive for Japan’s cautious, corporate media and publishing industry.
“I know it is tough for mainstream television networks, but I just want ordinary people to know about this situation and think about it,” she said. “This is not about some poor people in a remote country, I want people to see this as an issue relevant to Japan. These Uighur people were also living an ordinary life, just like us.”
Tursun’s story ends with her returning to Egypt, only to find her husband had followed her to China to look for her — and been arrested and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Even after getting U.S. asylum, Tursun said she has been pursued and harassed by Chinese agents.
Tursun testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and appeared at the National Press Club in Washington in November 2018.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry disputes her version of events, saying she was taken into custody “on suspicion of inciting ethnic hatred and discrimination” but was only held for 20 days before being released. Chinese officials said she was never sent to a “vocational education and training center,” as Beijing calls the camps.
It also denied that one of her sons died in hospital in Urumqi, suggesting he had been taken to Turkey and entrusted to the care of a relative, calling her account “a lie fabricated with ulterior motives.”
“My oldest son who passed away will not come back no matter what,” Tursun says in the manga’s closing pages. “So I gathered my courage and decided to tell the world what happened to me.”
Akiko Kashiwagi contributed to this report.
- Pubblicato Domenica, 06 Ottobre 2019 21:51
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 2 blasted China over its treatment of Uyghur Muslims during a Vatican conference.
Pompeo reserved his toughest criticism for China in a keynote speech at a Vatican conference on religious freedom. The others were Cuba, Iran, Pakistan and Burma.
“When the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens to worship the government, not God. That’s why China has put more than one million Uyghur Muslims … in internment camps and is why it throws Christian pastors in jail,” he said.
“When the state rules absolutely, God becomes an absolute threat to authority,” he said.
Beijing faces growing international pressure as it continues to use the excuse of fighting terrorism and radicalization to persecute Uyghur Muslims.
The Chinese regime has intensified its crackdown on Uyghurs, including by establishing internment camps in Xinjiang where Uyghurs undergo political indoctrination and brainwashing in an attempt to force them into giving up their faith. Beijing calls the camps “vocational training centers” used to stamp out extremism and give people new skills.
“Today we must gird ourselves for another battle in defense of human dignity and religious freedom. The stakes are arguably higher than they were even during the Cold War, because the threats are more diverse and more numerous,” he said at the conference organized by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican.
Pompeo, who is due to meet Pope Francis on Thursday morning, later visited the Sistine Chapel and other parts of the Vatican museums.
His trip, which will also include a visit to his ancestral home in the rugged Abruzzo region northeast of Rome and stops in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Greece.
By Philip Pullella and David Brunnstrom. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.
- Pubblicato Sabato, 07 Settembre 2019 18:25
BY JOSEPH BOSCO, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 08/30/19
The geopolitical tectonic plates are moving, and the inevitable dismantlement of the Chinese Communist empire has begun.
History teaches that the lifespan of a major communist power is about seven decades, even under the best of circumstances — that is, when the dictatorship is given every strategic advantage through sporadic Western naivete, timidity and other motivations.
That was the experience of the Soviet Union after the victorious World War II Allies handed over half of Europe to Moscow’s tender mercies and expanded and prolonged communism’s rule of half the world for another 40 years.
Now, the People’s Republic of China, itself having been given a four-decades extension by misguided Western policies before and after the Tiananmen Square massacre, is finally reaching the end of the line — and Donald Trump and Hong Kong are the bellwethers of its demise.
As a candidate, president-elect and then as president, Trump made clear that he was throwing out the old rulebook and approaching both domestic and international issues with a fresh, and very brash, attitude.
That became dramatically evident when he turned to the two challenges that bedeviled his predecessors for decades: the immediate security threat from North Korea and the immediate economic threat from China, along with its own growing aggression.
After setting the stage with North Korea through a maximum-pressure campaign of sanctions, credible threats of force and regime delegitimization, Trump cultivated a personal relationship with Kim Jong Un. The combination seemed to offer the prospect of a denuclearization breakthrough until Chinese leader Xi Jinping intervened and hardened Pyongyang’s posture. Now, Trump must decide whether to return to maximum pressure — and whether to punish Xi for poisoning the well.
With China, the president emphasized the charm component as he imposed expanding trade tariffs and asserted America’s deterrent resolve in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.
He has not (yet) played the human rights card against the Chinese Communist regime, despite abundant opportunities presented by its cultural genocide and physical persecution of the Uighur people and the crisis in Hong Kong.
But the trade war alone poses an existential threat to Beijing. Trump’s escalating tactics present Xi with a dilemma. If he continues to play tit-for-tat indefinitely, the costs to the Chinese economy will keep rising at a time when the government is preparing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
The costs could become unbearable if the U.S. president decides to reinstate the bans on ZTE and Huawei that he imposed, and then retracted as a personal favor to Xi — but for which Xi has not reciprocated on trade, maritime security, human rights or North Korea.
If, on the other hand, Beijing keeps the promises it originally made to reform its economic practices and behave like a normal global trading partner, it will lose the unfair advantages it has enjoyed for decades. Then Xi will be unable to sustain his regime’s investment in either massive internal repression or aggressive external adventures and will need to recalibrate his “China Dream” ambitions.
A similar Hobson’s choice confronts Beijing regarding the burgeoning, monthslong civil protests in Hong Kong — again precipitated by the Communist Party’s brazen reneging on promises made to the world community.
The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong, establishing “one country, two systems,” was already seeded with a doomed outcome, guaranteeing the civil, political and human rights of the people of Hong Kong for a period of only 50 years.
But Beijing decided it could not wait even that long to absorb Hong Kong into its totalitarian tyranny. Over the years, it undertook a gradual campaign of strangling the city-state’s political autonomy, first by eroding the promise of universal suffrage and self-government, and most recently, by trying to undermine judicial independence through an extradition law that triggered the recent protests.
It is easy to understand China’s discomfiture with Hong Kong’s status when it is coupled with the other Chinese population for which the one country, two systems arrangement was intended: Taiwan. As Vice President Mike Pence recently stated, “America will always believe that Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”
China obviously fears the Hong Kong/Taiwan democratic model will infect the rest of its population, especially the diverse subjugated regions of Tibet and East Turkestan (Xinjiang). It imposes a sweeping news blackout precisely to keep the Chinese people from knowing a “better path” is entirely possible for them, too.
So far, to avoid upsetting the economic arrangements that have profited some sectors of Western business, think tanks and academia — while devastating entire U.S. industries and communities — Washington and other governments have not played the powerful information card that is readily available to pressure Beijing to reform.
But the plight of the Uighurs and Hong Kongers — and the recent exposure of Nazi-like medical procedures such as forced organ harvesting against oppressed minority groups — is fostering second thoughts on not only the immorality but also the strategic wisdom of continued silence.
The external pressure from the Trump economic strategy and the centrifugal forces emanating from Beijing’s repressed populations are coinciding. At some point, Xi and/or his colleagues, or their successors, will need to confront the internal contradictions of the entire Chinese Communist system.
They will have to decide whether lashing out at external enemies and those within could produce a conflagration that will destroy all their achievements of the past 30 years — and the Communist Party itself — or whether a glide path to a soft landing can be arranged with the outside world.
At that point, China’s leaders may decide that a restored Chinese empire with communist characteristics is ultimately an untenable proposition and that the burden of trying to hold it together is too much.
Then, one system — democracy — likely will prove to be more attractive and workable for the core Chinese nation, and for the separate and independent entities of Hong Kong, Taiwan, East Turkestan, Mongolia and Tibet. Those free peoples then could decide what remerging or federated relationships they prefer.
That will be a China Dream that the 1.4 billion people presently under Beijing’s rule would welcome.
Joseph Bosco served as China country director for the secretary of Defense from 2005 to 2006 and as Asia-Pacific director of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief from 2009 to 2010. He is a nonresident fellow at the Institute for Corean-American Studies and the Institute for Taiwan-American Studies and is a member of the advisory board of the Global Taiwan Institute.
- Pubblicato Mercoledì, 12 Giugno 2019 19:26
By JASON SCOTT JONES Published on May 31, 2019
This week the State Department’s Morgan Ortegas delivered one of the bravest statements you will ever hear from a government official. She pointed to the “victims of China’s massive campaign of repression against Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities.” The statement continued:
The United States is alarmed by the arbitrary and unjust detention of more than 1 million people; widespread reports of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment; ever-present, high-tech surveillance; and coerced practices contrary to people’s faiths.
Donald Trump: Champion of the Vulnerable
This powerful statement should be front page news. Everywhere. But you won’t find much about it at USA Todayor CNN. As with unborn children, it falls to us as Christians to defend the vulnerable. Ironically, powerful Islamic regimes such as Saudi Arabia do nothing to help China’s Muslims. They put first their business deals with the dictators in Beijing.
The Muslims of China are helpless victims of a vicious atheist regime. It uses forced abortion and concentration camps to punish all believers who resist Communist control. That means Christians, and also Muslims.
The Muslims of China are helpless victims of a vicious atheist regime. It uses forced abortion and concentration camps to punish all believers who resist Communist control. That means Christians, and also Muslims. The hunted Muslims in China, then, really are “the least among us.” If we want to be taken seriously when we call for religious freedom, and claim to be Christ-followers, we must speak up for them, too.
One of the Great Genocides Is Happening Today
How bad is the plight of the Uighur community in Chinese-occupied East Turkistan (Xinjiang)? It’s one the greatest genocides in modern history. And it’s happening today. As you read this.
Don’t take it from me. See the State Department’s 2018 Human Rights Report. The Chinese Communist Party has imprisoned “possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities.”
Journalists, human rights advocates, and former prisoners all agree. They report that “security officials in the camps abused, tortured, and killed some detainees.” Communist party thugs steal Uighur children from their parents and brainwash them into atheism and Communism.
Some Uighurs have fled to the U.S. and Europe. Even in freedom, they’re haunted by memories. By the thought of their family members still enduring torture, rape, and death in Chinese concentration camps. Or by their own brushes with China’s use of infanticide and abortion as tools of genocide. As I reported here at The Stream a few months back:
One woman, Arzigul Tursun, was detained by police in the sixth month of her third pregnancy. Officials then forced her to undergo a late-term abortion.
Even if she had somehow escaped the medically unnecessary procedure? Then she would have faced a 45,000 yuan fine for the crime of conceiving a third child. That fine exceeds several years’ family income.
As a human rights advocate, a Christian, and a father, let me say “Thank You.” Thank you, Trump administration and State Department. This week’s statement was timely, courageous, and the right thing to do.
Trump: Not Silent Like FDR and Obama
I’m all the more grateful when I consider the alternative. One we’ve seen too often: Silence in the face of brutality. Oblivion for the vulnerable. I’m often deeply pained by the dark moments in our history. The times when powerful Americans left the weak to perish, when they needed our solidarity the most.
Help us champion truth, freedom, limited government and human dignity. Support The Stream »
I think of the spiritless bureaucrats who sat on reports of the Holocaust which Polish Resistance fighters died to spirit out of Europe. For long months, only the Yiddish press would report them. A press briefing finally revealedthe Nazi plan in 1942. Our media yawned.
The next day’s New York Times reported [the] news on its tenth page. Throughout the rest of the war, the Times and most other newspapers failed to give prominent and extensive coverage to the Holocaust.
I also remember how FDR’s and his State Department turned away Jewish refugees from Europe. That effectively sent them back to Hitler’s death camps.
I think also of those who ignored reports of the massive suffering inflicted on innocents in the Soviet Gulag. And the celebrities, journalists, and cowardly diplomats who fawned on the monster Joseph Stalin.
Even more recently, officials in the Obama administration long ignored the urgent needs of minorities in the Middle East. They scoffed at the genocidal jihadist group ISIS as a “junior varsity” team. Many in the American media downplayed that too.
America Demands that the Genocide End
I’m grateful that President Trump is proving so much more humane.
This week represents one of the bright moments in our history. It should make Americans proud. The State Department’s statement showed no weakness. It ended with a demand:
The human rights abuses in Xinjiang must end, and they must end now. We call on the Chinese Government to release all Uighurs and other Muslim minorities arbitrarily detained throughout Xinjiang….
This is America showing courage, and calling out tyranny. Standing up for victims. Embracing the incomparable worth and dignity of the human person at the moment when he is most under threat. This is America at its best.
- Pubblicato Domenica, 14 Aprile 2019 23:03
The Jewish people don’t need to be warned about genocide. We know it doesn’t happen overnight. We know it starts with a culture being demonised, and with hate and repression becoming normal. Then people start disappearing. That’s what is happening today in China. It is estimated that over a million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are being detained indefinitely in ‘re-education’ camps in China’s western Xinjiang Region.
The range of people detained in the camps, from elderly women, to intellectuals, and celebrated artists, undermines the official line that they are being detained in order to receive training. They are being detained as part of a wider effort by the Chinese government to subdue and erase Uyghur culture.
Who are the Uyghurs? They are a Turkic minority, ethnically and culturally very different from China’s Han majority. The majority of Uyghurs – around 11 million – live in Xinjiang, but there are significant communities in central Asia, Turkey, Germany, and the United States. There is a small Uyghur community here in the UK too. Many Uyghurs practise Islam, and do not speak Mandarin as a first language. Since 1949 the Uyghur homeland has been a part of the People’s Republic of China. Decades of Han migration and discriminatory policies towards Uyghur people have led to tensions and sporadic violence.
Repression of Uyghurs has escalated massively since 2016. The Chinese Government say that they are responding to extremism in the Uyghur community. It is true that some Uyghurs have gone to fight in Syria. But the Chinese Government’s response to this has been to punish millions of people, many of whom have been labelled ‘extreme’ for such things as refusing to eat pork, or speaking to a relative overseas.
Life for Uyghurs outside the camps is bleak too. As well as the constant fear of being taken away, the Chinese Government have banned many expressions of Uyghur culture. The Uyghur language is being removed from schools and public spaces. Mosques are empty. Neighbourhoods are being bulldozed.
What can we do? As Jews I believe we have a special responsibility to bear witness to what is happening, and to speak up whenever we can.
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights was co-drafted by Monsieur René Cassin, a French-Jewish lawyer who had lost many family members in the Holocaust. His aim was to establish rights for all of humanity. On being informed that he would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1968, René Cassin replied: “I am very happy”. But, he added, “I would be happier if there were a little more justice in the world”.
René Cassin, the Jewish human rights charity named in his honour, is hosting an event on 9th May to highlight the Uyghur crisis and to ask what solidarity and leadership the Jewish community can offer, in the hope of bringing ‘a little more justice’ to the world in René Cassin’s name.