The Uighur Massacre: We don’t need your solidarity Al-Qaeda!

The Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia aligns itself with the rest of the world in condemning the recent unrest in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region caused by the Chinese Government’s mishandling of an alleged delicate internal matter. While we see that the root cause of this problem is simply human greed and arrogance, we strongly feel that there is no justification for the actions by the Chinese government in creating the conditions that caused the conflict and participating in fueling further the recent violence in Urumqi.

We are also extremely appalled by the apparent call for reprisals made by the Algerian-based offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Morocco (p.23 NST 15 July 2009) which does not in any way help to end the unrest. Violence begets violence; the only solution to this issue is through peaceful resolution and not conflicted approach. Al Qaeda and the likes are at best short-sighted and opportunistic political groups that have manipulated Muslim sentiments; their threat no longer originates from the secluded areas of the borderlands, but from its extremist symbolism that has long since metastasized to other organizations and individuals of the Muslim world.

Death totals and injury figures increase daily. The factory violence, rumors of this incident, and the government’s inaction, sparked an estimated 10,000 Uighur protestors to take to the streets in Urumqi. Heavy-handed policing toward Uighurs is thought to have played a role in turning the initially peaceful protests in Urumqi into violent riots. It is probable that the substantial influx of Han Chinese to the region has played a role in the current unrest. China’s Uighurs are undoubtedly amongst the most repressed peoples of the world.

Unlike the violent reaction called for by the Algerian-based offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Morocco, we reiterate the call by our fellow civil society organizations on the Chinese government:

To allow external, impartial observers and journalists to report the unrest in an uncensored manner;

To carry out an open and independent investigation into the ethnic clash and deaths that took place in Guangdong in late June.

To deal with the protestors in a proportionate and even-handed manner and provide those arrested with fair trials in accordance with international standards. Adequate investigations on the circumstances surrounding all deaths should be carried out.

To respect and provide opportunities for Uighurs to enjoy their human rights including their religious and cultural rights.

To abandon the policy of changing the demography of the region through Han migration and trying to assimilate them into the Han community.

To recognize and give effect to the right of self-determination of the Uighurs in accordance with international law and China’s own grant of autonomy to the region.

To establish inter-ethnic goodwill councils to address inter-ethnic problems and promote unity through peaceful conflict resolution.

There is an extremely urgent need for the world community to end all the continued brutalities, murders and violence against Muslims and other minorities. Al-Qaeda’s response aggravates but does not alleviate. Our failure in this instance and like instances to do so reflects a condoning of violence and discrimination and proves that the mere passage of resolutions of condemnation is not the answer.

Azril Mohd Amin is the vice-president of Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) and a lawyer.

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