Are Muslims privileged in China

Solidarity with Uyghurs: no longer remain silent, no longer watch

In the guest commentary, Bini Guttmann from the European Union of Jewish Students and Mischa Ushakov from the Jewish Student Union in Germany call for breaking the "deafening silence" regarding the situation of the Uyghurs.

Last Monday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the world marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Thousands of politicians, prominent and ordinary people demanded "Never again!" And rightly so! The greatest crime in human history must never be forgotten, must never be repeated.

Just "Never again!" Demanding is not enough, however. For us - as young Jews - "Never again!" more than just an empty phrase at memorial services. "Never again!" is the reason why we fight anti-Semitism every day across Europe. "Never again!" but is also the reason why we show solidarity with the Uyghurs in China, who are threatened by cultural genocide.

The author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once said: "You have to take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim, and silence reinforces the tormentor, never the tormented."

Deafening silence

When it comes to the situation of the Uyghurs, our history clearly shows one thing: we can no longer remain silent, no longer watch. We have to take sides, speak out against cultural genocide. That's why we say "Never Again - Right Now!".

"Torture with metal nails, pulled out fingernails, electric shocks, all of this takes place in the 'Black Room'. The punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and are given injections. They are used to prevent disease, say the staff but in reality the internees serve as human guinea pigs for medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are raped regularly. " This is how the refugee Sayragul Sauytbay describes the situation in the Chinese "re-education camps" in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in October.

In 2020, one to three million Uyghur Muslims will be locked behind meter-high fences and barriers, continuously monitored by the most modern surveillance systems, in concentration camps - not extermination camps - in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The Chinese government persecutes its Muslim minority through a ruthless, industrialized campaign of brainwashing, torture and dehumanization. Because they are Muslim.

The machinery of the Chinese state, actively supported by the companies that manufacture in Xinjiang and passively by the indifference of the rest of the world, ensures that the Uyghurs are quietly deprived of their human rights. While China is committing cultural genocide, the world's silence is deafening.

As Jews, as a people who know genocide and statelessness better than anyone else, we often wonder why the world has been and is still silent during our persecution. As young activists we fight every day against rising anti-Semitism in our universities, our streets and parliaments. That is why "never again!" Acting for us also means getting up when a cultural genocide is committed today. There is no excuse to remain silent when crimes against humanity are committed. As young Jews, we urge the world to keep their promise of "Never again!" to meet and act. Now.

European solidarity

As young Europeans, we believe in diversity and freedom. In its constitution, Europe undertakes to respect human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and also respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. China is jeopardizing these very values. In Xinjiang, in the rest of the country and, as a rising superpower, soon all over the world. Europe must learn from its own history and stand in solidarity with those whose human dignity is at risk, rather than with those who boost our economy - while we can.

Europe's decision-makers and companies must finally act, put people above profits, stand up for humanity and human dignity - and take sides. (Bini Guttmann, Mischa Ushakov, January 30, 2020)

Bini Guttmann is President of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), Misha Ushakov is President of the Jewish Student Union Germany (JSUD).

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