A Uighur woman has called on the Christian community to condemn the atrocities her community continues to face at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, warning that the “tragedy of the Uighur people will be the future of the entire world if this threat is not addressed.”
Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of Campaign for Uighurs and a former Uighur service journalist with Radio Free Asia, participated in an Aug. 21 webinar hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission that focused on China's persecution of the Uighur Muslim community in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China.
Abbas shared how her own sister and aunt disappeared — and were likely taken to internment camps — as a result of her activism.
"My story is just one of the millions," she said. "I, like all Uighurs, must remind myself of the truth: that my actions did not cause this, but the political actions of the Chinese Communist regime did this.”
China, she said, is not just treating Uighurs as a “problem to be exterminated,” but is also seeking to control the world order and those outside its borders.
“They are literally declaring the need to rewrite the Bible and the holy Quran to be compatible with communist atheistic ideology,” she said. “While China is openly conducting genocide, the world is muted as China buys basically the compliance of the business world. ... The tragedy of the Uighur people will be the future of the entire world if this threat is not addressed and if we don’t take action.”
The CCP specifically targets Uighur women, Abbas said, citing a recent report that documented dropping birth rates among Uighurs because of practices such as forced sterilization, abortion, and even the killing of babies born alive.
In concentration camps, many women are subject to mental and physical torture, including rape, Abbas said. Additionally, women are “forced to take some unknown medications that make them mentally cloudy to stop their reproductive cycles,” she revealed.
“Outside of the camps ... women face constant fear and control over their daily lives,” she said, adding that Communist Party cadres will sometimes move into Uighurs' homes to “supervise the family and give them social credit scores.”
“If you don't comply with everything that they ask, then these people will be sent to concentration camps,” she said. “For most of those women, husbands are in those concentration camps or Chinese prisons. This creates an environment where women are vulnerable to sexual abuse.”
On some occasions, Uighur women are forced into marriages with Han Chinese men as part of the CCP’s attempt to assimilate and colonize Uighur communities, Abbas said.
According to reports, in 2014 local authorities in Cherchen county of Xinjiang announced “Incentive Measures Encouraging Uighur-Chinese Intermarriage.” Government-sponsored incentives included a 10,000 yuan ($1,450) cash reward annually for five years to the intermarried couples. Other incentives included preferential treatment toward employment, housing, and free education for the couples, their parents, and offspring.
“Uighur women are unable to give birth to Uighur babies anymore, and the Uighur children are taken to the state orphanages [where they are] brainwashed and taught to hate their own families, their culture, their religion,” she said, adding that such atrocities are happening before the world.
“We have been crying out about these atrocities for years, but ... when there’s money involved, the world is completely silent,” she said. “Many consciences have been sold, and the values of humanity have been betrayed. How can we allow these things to happen to women and children? Where is the outcry from feminists and the people who are supposed to protect children’s rights?”
International entities, family organizations, and even Hollywood stars have allowed themselves to be “muted by China’s blood money,” Abbas explained.
“The truth will triumph at the end,” she said, but stressed that the atrocities exposed are “just the tip of the iceberg.”
“Choosing to remain silent or not to act is to choose a side now,” she said. “And that's not the right side. Not only is the future of the Uighur people at stake, [but] the future of the free world, the future of democracy is at stake here. The Chinese regime seeks to deny all values of life for all they perceive as dissenting voices.”
“So it's not just about religion, or our ethnicity, it's about humanity,” she said. “Do not let the knowledge of this genocide become something that causes us grief, but not tangible action.”
Abbas said that as a Uighur Muslim, she is “begging” Christians and international leaders to prevent “another Holocaust from happening.”
“This will not stop with just the Uighurs,” she predicted. “I cannot emphasize that enough ... if we don’t speak now, the only voice left will be one of regret.”
Panelists encouraged those in the U.S. to pray for those who are being persecuted; call their elected and appointed officials and ask them to stand up for persecuted people in China; consider starting a local International Religious Freedom Roundtable, and educate others on what’s going on in China.
"If the type of atrocities being described and shared by victims and survivors, if the fact that China brought back slavery to the modern world, if the fact that they're selling Uighur woman's hair, if the fact that they're publicly advertising Uighur woman for forced marriage — if that does not move you, what would move you to get on the right side of history?” asked panelist Nury Turkel, a Uighur American attorney born in Xinjiang and member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“This is not about personal politics,” he emphasized. “This is noncontroversial. Genocide is taking place. It is our moral obligation to stop it.”
According to Russell Moore, president of the ERLC, the CCP is “counting on” the fact that the world will be “bullied and intimidated into silence” because of China’s power and wealth.
He explained that the Chinese government wants to make itself god, which is why it targets religious groups including Christians, Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners, and any religious minority that would say there is an allegiance higher than the state itself.
“This attempt to even rewrite the scriptures and holy texts of these various religions in order to see to it that China is ultimate,” he said. “But as Christians, we of course know that God is ultimate, God is greater than any would-be Caesar. And we know that the image of God does not belong to any would-be Caesar, it belongs to God.”
Moore also addressed the obligation of Christians to stand up for Uighur Muslims. He contended that authoritarian regimes count on tribalism to keep their system of persecution alive.
“They're really counting on Christians to say, ‘Well, I'm not a Uighur Muslim, so this is not my problem,’” he said. “And it is a problem. We have to be the people who recognize the image of God in all of humanity.”
Moore encouraged Christians to pray together and specifically mention Uighur Muslims and other imperiled people by name.
“Look for the people in your own communities who are invisible, who are intimidated, who are bullied, and stand with them,” he said. “As a Christian, I believe that the Gospel is the Gospel of life, and the Gospel does not come through bullying and intimidation and power, but through, as the Apostle Paul says, the kindness of God. And so let's reflect that in the people in our own communities who may feel invisible.”
The live event webinar was hosted by ERLC Vice President for Public Policy Travis Wussow. The panel also included Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom.