A message to China: Unity in diversity

  • Letters
  • Friday, 11 Jan 2019

The Movement for an Informed Society Malaysia (Wadah) is troubled and alarmed concerning the plight of ethnic Uyghur Muslims as reported worldwide.

Wadah urges China and the international community to act to end the oppression and persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The UN estimates one million ethnic Uyghur Muslims are being held in detention arbitrarily in internment camps all over Xinjiang. China has admitted to the existence of these ethnic prison system but termed them as "re-education camps".

"Re-education camps" are chilling because it reminds the world of the harsh "gulags" and the cruel concentration camps of the past. Camps renown for enforcing thought control, collective punishments, torture and even death.

Whole families are reported to have disappeared behind these detention centre walls.

It is grave and severe because the arrests involve wide swathes of the minority ethnic Muslims. The personal beliefs, culture, language, rituals and even appearances of Uyghurs are being targeted and used as flimsy grounds for detention in such camps.

Daily prayers, growing beards, dressing and even fasting in the month of Ramadan have been astonishingly criminalised by Chinese authorities.

These are the dreadful forms of mistreatment and persecution of minority citizens in China at present.

China need not be in a state of enmity and confrontation with its minorities, Muslims and even the religion of Islam.

China has a rich cultural history, a strong and stable government, and is a world economic power. It can celebrate diversity and inclusiveness of its vast population. Muslims and Islam have existed in

China throughout its history and even during challenging and turbulent times.

China has to come to terms with its own minority citizens by tolerating and respecting their religion, culture and languages while always safeguarding the foundations of the nation, preserving loyalty to the country, upholding the national language and acquiescing to central administration.

It can reconcile to live together peacefully with mutual trust by observing and adopting strength through diversity within the framework of national unity. Unity in diversity is workable and Malaysia is a fine example.

Wadah would like to urge China to take the path of peace, engagement, dialogue, reconciliation, mutual respect and building mutual trust with its religious minorities so as to be an example to the world for sustaining a great and prosperous country together. This path will definitely boost and greatly complement China’s ambitious world economic initiative.

President of Wadah