In a welcome development, the US Commerce Department has blacklisted 28 Chinese companies over the human rights violations of Uyghur Muslims and other Muslim ethnic minorities in the far western province of Xinjiang in China. This move of adding the Chinese companies to the ‘Entity List’ bars them from engaging in activities of buying parts and components from US companies without the approval of the US government. This comes as a stern step against China for the gross human rights violations of the Uyghurs that have figured in news reports prominently for the past one and a half years.
The companies added to the list include the Chinese video surveillance company, Hikvision, the Xinjiang Government’s Public Security Bureau and 19 subordinate government agencies. Hikvision and Dahua are among the biggest security camera makers in the United States and therefore the move to blacklist Hikvision is not merely symbolic but actually inflicts costs upon China for the blatant human rights violations against Uyghurs.
The US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said, “The US Government and Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China.” He added, “Entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”
The US has also imposed visa restrictions on Chinese government officials involved in the human rights violations against Uyghurs an other ethnic minorities.
It is important to mention here that since last year, several reports documented the atrocities being committed upon the Uyghur Muslims living in the far western Chinese province of Xinjiang. Last year, through several shocking reports, it came to light that authorities in China’s far western province of Xinjiang are carrying out a massive political ‘re-education’ campaign that requires Muslim detainees to swear allegiance to the Communist Party and foreswearing a Muslim faith that they are told to repeat is “stupid.” This massive campaign treats Islam as a mental disease. According to the UN and US officials, around a million Muslims are held up in Chinese internment camps. Former detainees- mostly Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority, have stated that they were subjected to an indoctrination process that lasted for several months.
The Uyghurs have been forced to renounce Islam, criticise Islamic beliefs and sing Communist propaganda songs for several hours. They were also force-fed alcohol and pork- which are forbidden among the Muslims. According to these reports earlier it were the Uyghur extremists who were targeted by the authorities but now even harmless manifestations of Muslim identity are not tolerated.
And even growing a beard, for example, can be a ground for sending an Uyghur to internment camp. A senior Chinese official had spilled the beans while talking to a UN panel about the internment camps when he stated that there are, “no such things as reeducation centers.” Even though, the government documents refer to them as re-education centres, in reality, they are just vocational schools for criminals. Therefore, China has not only started looking at Islam as a mental disorder but it is also being criminalised.
However, the Chinese atrocities upon the Uyghur Muslims has reached a zenith this year and it was illustrated by the findings of an independent tribunal that has exposed the possible future plans of the Chinese government aimed at committing human rights violations against Uyghurs in order to sustain its booming organ transplants industry. There have been reports of a rather recent phenomenon of concerted persecution and medical testing among the Uyghur Muslims.
Given China’s murky record of organ harvesting from persecuted ethnic and religious minorities and prisoners including even ‘prisoners of conscience’, reports of state sponsored organ harvesting from Uyghurs have sent shockwaves around the world.
What has further exposes Chinese excesses in gross violation of the human rights of the Uyghur Muslims, latest leaked drone footage has shown hundreds of male Uyghur Muslims in the far western province of China, handcuffed and blindfolded. This clearly corroborates the accusation of China resorting to ‘concentration camps’. What is shocking is the fact that judicial authorities have sought to play down the serious human rights violations exposed by the drone footage as “normal judicial activities.”
The US move to blacklist the Chinese security companies sets a strong and correct precedent. In the 21st century, such blatant violation of human rights is absolutely unacceptable. The Chinese authorities must not be allowed to remain in the illusion that it can get away with such affront to some of the most basic human rights of the Uyghur Muslims. Ultimately, the community of nations must consider sanctions and other economic measures in order to deter China from resorting to such ruthless violation of the basic liberties and human rights of the ethnic minorities within China.