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AsiaCurrent

Hong Kong protesters rally in support of the persecuted Uyghur Muslims

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AsiaCurrent

Hong Kong protesters rally in support of the persecuted Uyghur Muslims

“The Chinese government are control freaks, they can’t stand any opinions they disagree with. In Xinjiang they are doing what they are doing because they have the power to do so. When they take over Hong Kong they will do the same.”

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“The Chinese government are control freaks, they can’t stand any opinions they disagree with. In Xinjiang they are doing what they are doing because they have the power to do so. When they take over Hong Kong they will do the same.”

Riot police in Hong Kong have violently broken up a peaceful rally in support of the persecuted Uyghurs in China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang – with one police officer drawing a pistol while demonstrators were targeted with pepper spray.

The protests in Hong Kong, gaining traction in June of this year, began after plans to allow extradition to mainland China took shape in this semi-autonomous territory. Many people in Hong Kong took to the streets, upset and frustrated at the lack of autonomy and China’s growing influence. The protests have continued for months now, in some of the largest and most historic moments of demonstrations the region has ever seen.

Protesters on Sunday rallied in support of the persecuted Uyghur Muslims as well – in solidarity for who they see as their brothers and sisters in the wider fight against Chinese aggression. Many demonstrators wore the light-blue masks that have become a symbol of Uyghur freedom, while many others carried the flags of East Turkestan, the name many Uyghur activists call the Chinese province of Xinjiang where the majority of Uyghurs live today.

One demonstrator was heard chanting through loudspeakers during the rally:

We shall not forget those who share a common goal with us, our struggle for freedom and democracy, and the rage against the Chinese Communist Party!”

China’s ethnic cleansing and systematic genocide of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang is arguably one of the world’s most horrifying cases of human rights abuses. Reports point towards 1-2 million Uyghur and ethnic Muslim minorities being held in concentration camps across northwestern China, where first-hand accounts and testimonies, leaked official documents, and satellite images prove a series of human rights abuses being conducted in the region.

Forced detentions, rape and forced sterilizations, extrajudicial killings, systematic Communist Party indoctrination, forced reversions away from Islam, the separation of children from parents, and home monitoring and surveillance are only a few examples of the ways in which the Chinese state is implementing a complete ethnic cleansing of the Uyghur Muslims.

Sunday’s rally was the first time during the protests in Hong Kong that demonstrators specifically dedicated the march to the Uyghur Muslims in China, although they were heavily targeted by riot police with at least two people reportedly arrested. Many were pepper-sprayed and reportedly beaten, while one officer drew his pistol at the crowd. The riot police claim these actions were necessary after one demonstrator attempted to burn a Chinese flag.

One demonstrator spoke to AFP news before the the riot police violently broke up the protest:

The Chinese government are control freaks, they can’t stand any opinions they disagree with. In Xinjiang they are doing what they are doing because they have the power to do so. When they take over Hong Kong they will do the same.”

China currently controls Hong Kong on a “one country, two systems” model, after the colony of Hong Kong was handed back to China from the British in 1997. Hong Kong operated with a certain level of autonomy, something that has become increasingly under attack with China’s attempt at furthering its political and economic control over the territory.

As the protesters in Hong Kong continue to demand their rights and freedom, their recent show of solidarity for the persecuted Uyghur Muslims in China highlights the strength of collaboration that can arise from joining together in the wider fight against oppression and authoritarianism.

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