China has detained over 1 million Muslims in internment camps. In these camps, ‘re-education’ is taking place; over several months, Muslims are forced to renounce Islam, criticise it, and are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. There are even reports of death and torture. The US Congressional Executive Commission on China describes the camp as the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today. It is a horrific, deplorable situation.
Whenever we hear of our brothers and sisters suffering, feelings of helplessness and despair are all too familiar. Syria, Palestine, Burma, the list goes on – we are so often confronted with gut-wrenching circumstances, with the same pessimistic internal dialogue echoing in our minds; ‘What can I possibly do to help? What will signing a petition do? They won’t listen, they’re too powerful!’.
Indeed, the situation is bleak. In this case especially, China, an economic and military juggernaut, is involved. Yet despite the odds, we are obligated to at least try. Let’s do what we can at the very least.
Here’s a number of ways that you can play your part in standing up to this injustice:
1. Lobby Government
Writing to people of influence is an effective way of bringing about change. Some of these people are very important decision-makers; they are also human beings with limited time and knowledge. They do not know everything, so if you can put together a well-written and well-evidenced letter, you may plant a seed in their head, which could blossom into tangible action.
Please do not use copy and paste letters; MPs tend to ignore these. Write sincerely, understanding that the reader of your letter is a human being with a conscious. Engage with them as such.
At the end of this article, there is a list of a number of influential people you can write to in the UK. You should also write to your local MP, perhaps even suggesting to them to create an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Uighurs. An APPG for Rohingya exists, and as we’ve recently seen lobbying efforts have at least partly paid off with the UN strongly condemning Myanmar’s Military.
2. Raise awareness in your local mosque
Mosques are (or should be) hubs of active believers; it is certainly worth engaging with them to try and raise awareness. The Juma Khutbah, for example, is an unparalleled mode of communication; it reaches into deep crevices of the Muslim community.
A few suggestions of how you can engage with your mosque:
- Ask your local imam if they can mention the Uighur Muslims before or during the Juma Khutbah. Help them along by providing them with stats and reports that they can cite. Even a request for dua would be incredibly helpful.
- Make a poster for the mosque notice board, including action points.
- Run a workshop, talking through various action points.
We’ve certainly got a long way to go as a community, but we’ve shown so much passion at times when confronted with hatred and division; if the Muslim community could find that passion and channel it to stand for the Uighur Muslims, God-willing, great things could happen.
3. Contact NGOs and Human Rights Groups
There are many NGOs and charities that do excellent work defending human rights. Engaging with these organisations would, therefore, be a good option for creating momentum.
Amnesty International have local groups that meet regularly. You can contact them, attend their regular meetings, and aim to coordinate wider campaigns in your local community.
Contacting Amnesty International at a higher level, for example, the international secretariat, is also a great way to reach a very wide audience.
Amnesty is but one example; we’ve all got contacts and knowledge of local awareness groups; use your initiative and ally yourself with such groups.
You don’t have to be a journalist to be able to write to raise awareness. There’s plenty of ways that you’re writing can reach a wide audience. Here’s some suggestions:
- Write a Facebook post
- Write a WhatsApp message and share it among your contacts
- Start a blog; it’s quick and easy to start your own blog
- Write for another blog site; there’s plenty of successful and wide-reaching blog sites. Consider writing an awareness/action piece for them
You can promote your writing by tweeting at notable activists, writers etc. A single retweet could massively expand your readership.
5. Pray, pray and pray
If there’s one thing that we cannot escape, it’s hardship, toil, and suffering. This world will beat you down with a barrage of tragedies, both personal and distant. God never told us that there would never be any hardships. What He did tell us is that it’s not more than what we can handle. The only way we can stand up to injustice and suffering, and remain intact as humans and as Muslims, is to pray, pray and pray.
Without a doubt, this is a testing time for Muslims. For the Muslims in Uighur, their suffering is too great to put to words. As for us, our test is what we do with our privileges and freedoms; do we turn our heads away, and ignore the cries of others, or do we recognise our God-given duty to stand for those who suffer?
List of contacts
- Jeremy Hunt (MP for South West Surrey, Foreign Secretary)
- Mark Field (MP Cities of London and Westminster, Minister of State for Asia and Pacific)
- Richard Graham (MP Gloucester) – Chair of APPG for China
- Anna Soubry (MP Broxtowe) – Chair of APPG for British Muslims
- Robert Jenrick (MP Newark and Bingham) – Chair of APPG for Genocide Prevention and Crimes Against Humanity
- Ann Clywd (MP Cynon Valley) – Chair of APPG for Human Rights
- Anne Mains (MP St Albans) – Chair of APPG for Rohingya
- Barbara Woodward – British Ambassador to China
- Catherine West (MP Hornsey and Wood Green) – she raised a question to Mark Field in Parliament regarding treatment of Uighurs.