Uyghur community leaders in Australia appalled and outraged the government allowed a Chinese Communist Party propaganda parade

ABC News. 7 April 2021

Below is an article published by ABC News. Photo:Reuters: Murad Sezer.

Uyghur community leaders say Australia should be ashamed for allowing a Chinese government propaganda presentation to take place, and have called for the alleged atrocities against the minority group to be labelled a genocide. 

Key points:

  • Uyghur community leaders say the material presented by the Chinese embassy was “preposterous”
  • They say it is part of a move to legitimise the crackdown on people in the Xinjiang region
  • Those with missing or detained families have pleaded with the Australian government to help those who are in re-education camps

Their comments come after the Chinese embassy in Canberra held a press conference where journalists were played five propaganda videos about conditions in Xinjiang in China’s far west.

It has been estimated that more than 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim ethnic minorities have been detained in what the Communist Party (CCP) calls vocational education centres.

The United Nations calls the facilities “re-education camps”.

The press conference was joined by government officials in Urumqi, Xinjiang.

The videos, titled Xinjiang Is A Wonderful Land, presented the Chinese government’s interpretation of the human rights concerns in the region, including forced sterilisation, concentration camps and forced labour.

In the videos, one woman featured said she has put in an intrauterine device (IUD) voluntarily while another emphasised she has been more satisfied with her life after receiving “training” from one of the re-education camps.

The fact that the Chinese government allows Uyghur parents in Xinjiang to have more than one child per family was also used in an attempt to demonstrate there was no genocide in the region.

Six speakers from Uyghur background also shared their “real stories” that echoed the Party’s narrative after the screening. Most of them were women, too.

Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye stated that the press conference aimed at “helping Australian journalists to understand the real situation in Xinjiang”.

He criticised the Western media’s allegations as being based on fake news and misinformation.

Xinjiang Vice-Governor Erkin Tuniyaz also spoke.

Both the Governor and the videos hit very familiar themes, saying the government maintains “ethnic harmony” in Xinjiang while cracking down on terrorism.

In Mr Tuniyaz’s 20-minute speech, he stressed the “prosperity” and “harmony” of the region.

He said media and Western politicians were lying about the alleged treatment of Uyghurs and other minorities.

Members of the Uyghur community in Australia tell a different story.

Mamutjan Abdurrahim, an Adelaide Uyghur man and an Australian permanent resident, said he had been separated from his wife Muherrem Ablet, his daughter Muhlise and son Hikmet for more than five years.

Mr Abdurrahim told the ABC his wife was once taken into a re-education camp after she returned to Xinjiang from Malaysia, where the family had lived for about three years, with their two children.

He said he didn’t believe the video Chinese officials played at the press conference in Canberra on Wednesday afternoon.

“Their passports were confiscated,” Mr Abdurrahim said.

“The CGTN (China Global Television Network) had just made a counterclaim to that and falsely accusing me as a family abandoner.

“Because in that propaganda case, they also said that my wife was arrested in 2019 for provoking ethnic hatred, which is one of the common charges that are levelled against Uyghurs who were wrongfully detained after being detained in the concentration camps for years.”

Mr Abdurrahim said he was trying his best to advocate for his wife and was waiting for her release.

But he said the press conference had left him enraged.

“It’s just preposterous. It makes me furious and makes me even shiver as to I cannot find any words … to describe those outrageous claims. It is outrageous to say that people are happy,” he said.

“How can people going through such massive persecution be happy?

“It is just preposterous propaganda.”

Nurmuhammad Majid, the president of East Turkistan Australian Association, described China’s campaign as a “propaganda mission” for both domestic and international audiences.

“They are advocating for the legitimacy of the crackdown policy in Xinjiang region,” Mr Majid told the ABC.

“But they are ignoring the factual grounds of how Uyghur nations are actually living in the worst conditions and worst circumstances we have seen since 2017.

“The entire region has become a dystopian state.”

Mr Majid said the Chinese government had been showcasing videos on different platforms to “deceive international communities”.

“Today’s briefing in Canberra by the Chinese authorities is actually another means of deception,” he said, adding that over 20 of his family members were detained and sent to  re-education camps in Xinjiang.

“And I call on the Australian government and the public to be shamed for allowing the Chinese government to have such a big platform in a democratic country to spread its political agenda.

“Australia has moral, ethical [and] legal obligations to call such atrocities committed by the Chinese government a form of genocide.”

Reyhangul Abliz, a Melbourne-based Uyghur woman, said she has several relatives who have been missing, detained or imprisoned.

“I am here to testify that my parents and other family relatives have been caught by the Chinese communist regime,” Ms Abliz told the ABC.

“Some of them are detained in camp since 2017, and have not been released.”

She said her father, 71, and mother, 68, were both successful business people who were victims of China’s re-education camps.

“They are typical victims of the Chinese concentration camp,” she said.

Ms Abliz said her parents were not criminals and neither of them needed any training.

“It’s been more than three years now. I totally lost my contact with my parents and my other siblings,” she said.

“Every single minute I am suffering this situation about my parents.

“I am begging the Australian government to help all my people, my parents, and try to help them through the worst situation.