Uyghur Genocide: Why Most Muslim Countries Remain Silent
As confirmed at the Islamabad Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting, they need China’s money, its protection at the UN, and its surveillance technology.
China Foreign Minister Wang Yi meeting the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hussein Ibrahim Taha, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 22, 2022. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.
The world is talking about the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The effects of the invasion, which created a shock wave in the international arena, will be on the agenda for many years to come. The country whose attitude towards this invasion was most striking was China. Under the name of the principle of neutrality, China takes a silent stance against the invading Russian regime. Like as if nothing had happened, it continues its diplomatic and economic pressure in the regions it targets for its own colonial ambitions.
The most striking example of this has emerged in the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), which was held last week in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. In the meeting attended by the foreign ministers of 57 Muslim member countries, the only state official who was invited although he was not from a Muslim country was Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. It is remarkable that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, who hosted the meeting, praised the Chinese regime, which is conducting genocide on Uyghur Muslims.
After the meeting of the organization, a joint statement was issued pointing out the persecution of Muslims in every possible geographical location from Afghanistan to Kashmir, from Yemen to Syria, from Palestine to Myanmar. Except for Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Uyghurs who are subjected to genocide by the Chinese Communist Party in East Turkestan were ignored. What is the main reason why the Uyghur Genocide, which has been defined as such by many countries and international human rights organizations, is not acknowledged by Muslim countries?
There are three basic elements in the denial of the oppression of the Uyghurs, even though they belong to the same religion, by the Muslim states. These are economic dependency, the need for China’s diplomatic power in the international arena, especially the UN, and security. In this article, these issues will be examined briefly.
The country with the second-largest economic power in the world after America is China. The direct and indirect contributions of western states to China’s attainment of this economic power could be the subject of a separate article. However, it will not be a surprise for anyone to see a China with economic power at par with America in the future. While China is increasing its own economic power, it wants to control the resources that feed this power. Having access to unlimited energy and raw material resources is essential for China to maintain its economic power.
When we look at this equation, the following table emerges. There is China, which is in need of energy and raw materials, and there are states that have these resources, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, including Muslim countries.
The Beijing government has put forward a new initiative in 2013 in order to keep its hand strong in this balance. This format, known in short as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), was introduced to the world with the promise of equal development. But when we look at the regions where the BRI is taking place, it will be seen that it proceeds on two main lines. The first is the critical crossing points of world trade routes. Egypt’s Suez Canal, Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, and maritime transit routes in the Asia Pacific with Malaysia and Indonesia are a few examples. Second, the regions where oil and other energy resources are located. The oil of Iran and Saudi Arabia and the mines of African countries are examples in this regard.
While China continues to grow, it has convinced the rulers of its client countries with investment projects in various fields to meet its demand in the above-mentioned areas. A significant number of these projects are now within the scope of the BRI. The figures included in the primer showing China’s investments prepared by the American Enterprise Institute make it clear why foreign ministers of Muslim countries pursued Wang Yi at the meeting in Islamabad. To give an example, the number of investments that Pakistan, which hosted the meeting, received from China from 2005 to 2021 is approximately 65.5 billion dollars. The vast majority of this investment, approximately $49 billion, was in the field of construction.
When we look at Saudi Arabia, which is one of the leading Islamic states and carries out the general secretariat of the OIC, the picture we encounter is as follows: It is an investment of 43.3 billion dollars, which includes construction projects of 36.2 billion dollars. The situation of Iran, which sees itself as the spokesperson for the Islamic world, is no different. The amount of construction investments made by the Chinese in Iran is about 21 billion dollars. The fact that the mentioned figures reveal is that the countries of the Islamic world today have made their economies dependent on China with so-called investments. Therefore, for them, it is not important that Muslim Uyghurs are subjected to genocide by the Chinese Communist regime.
Except for some countries such as Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are not many states with democracy in the Islamic world. When we look at the regimes in the Islamic geography, we see systems that are either kingdoms or republics, but in practice, oppressive policies dominate. It is meaningless to expect human rights to be valued in a governmental system where democracy is not dominant. At the same time, these heads of state are not held accountable for all these oppressive policies and any steps they have taken in line with these policies. No one can hold them accountable within their own borders. Even if crimes are committed in a country that will cause the reaction of the international community, it is not possible for the world community to do anything.
The fact that the aforementioned countries ignore international universal values, as well as the fact that an oppressive regime such as China takes them under its wings, also has an effect. When we look at the events that brought the world to its feet in recent history, examples of this can be seen clearly. China’s “veto power” in the UN Security Council puts pressure on the oppressive states of Muslim countries. These regimes, which do not want to be held accountable to the international public, feel comfortable that if a human rights issue is brought to the UN, nothing will come of it. Therefore, it is deplorable that there are almost no Muslim countries in the UN declarations against China’s policies towards the Uyghurs. The support of the same Muslim countries in the declarations praising China shows their weakness. As a result of this weakness, Wang Yi received great attention at the OIC meeting, where the problems of Muslims in the world were discussed.
Along with the BRI, which is mentioned in the economic part of this article, the Chinese communist regime supports the governments of Muslim countries at two levels. The first is investments in the military field. The attempt to build facilities that produce unmanned aerial vehicles in Saudi Arabia, which is involved in military intervention in Yemen, is an important example.
Although it does not fully attract the attention of the world public, a more dangerous system that will affect people’s lives is being built in Muslim countries under the leadership of China. These are surveillance systems based on advanced technologies that have been tried on the Uyghurs in East Turkestan and have made their lives a dungeon. Authoritarian regimes aspire to surveillance technologies offered by companies affiliated with the Chinese Communist regime to monitor and suppress their rights and opponents. The details in the documentary on this subject on the PBS channel are terrible; now the Uyghurs live in a virtual prison. These surveillance methods are being built in the relevant countries under the name of new communication technologies. When the details of the agreements regarding the BRI have been published, provisions are included for the establishment of these systems in countries such as Pakistan and Iran. After all, it is not surprising that regimes that do not value human rights in their own countries and that allegedly defend the rights of Muslims aspire to one of the most important tools of the Uyghur Genocide.
Considering the issues listed above, the sad picture that emerges is as follows. The rulers of Muslim states followed a regime that waged war on the religion of Islam they believed in. It is a disgrace in history that Muslim countries are once again the biggest cheerleader of a murderous regime that sees religion as opium, burns the Qur’an, destroys mosques, imprisons headscarved women, and kills babies in their wombs. The rulers who turn a blind eye to these atrocities are doomed to take their place among the leaves of history as supporters of genocide.