Socialist Worker

Thousands protest in London at Chinese embassy for Uyghur freedom

by Sam Ord
Issue No. 2781

Protesters gathered outside the embassy

Protesters were determined to win change (Pic: SWP South London)


Around 2,500 people protested opposite the Chinese embassy in London on Saturday to demand that the oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China, comes to an end.

A coalition of Muslim organisations united under the banner, Stand 4 Uyghurs to call two protests in Manchester and London.

The London event heard chants of, “We will not be silenced,” as people flooded the streets.

Protester and Stand 4 Uyghurs volunteer, Aisha told Socialist Worker, “People need to know what’s happening—forced labour, kidnapping, murder, rape.

“Because people aren’t aware of these abuses it allows the Chinese state to get away with it.”

There are about 12 million mostly Muslim Uyghurs, living in Xinjiang in west China.

Camps

The state has set up hundreds of “re-education camps” in the region designed to stamp out Uyghur culture and religious practices.

The government has built factories in these camps that extract labour from the inmates.

The United States hypocritically denounces China for “human rights abuses” against the Uyghur—just as it did in Hong Kong.

Its own bloody record of military invasion, economic pressure and imperialist control rule it out from the right to criticise anyone.

But that does not mean socialists can ignore the very real oppression of the Uyghurs. It is possible to attack both US and Chinese imperialism and to fight against both.

The London protest was closely monitored by people within the Chinese embassy. Protesters responded robustly, collectively taking their own photos of the officials.

Sam had travelled from Birmingham to join the rally. He told Socialist Worker that British politicians' silence makes them complicit in the systematic “ethnic cleansing” of Uyghurs.

“It's up to us to protest for Uyghurs—politicians don’t do enough. China is one of the world's top economies so the British government sweetens them up,” he said.

Some speakers read Islamic texts that would get Muslims in China arrested. Others outlined the atrocities of forced sterilisation and forced marriages faced by Uyghur women.

A speaker from Islam21c said, “How are Uyghurs going to get their rights against the superpower, China?

Why does China persecute the Uyghur Muslims?
Why does China persecute the Uyghur Muslims?
  Read More

“One solution is for us to stand up for them—set them free. There is hope, the struggle will continue and we will come forward for justice.”

Moazzam Begg, who was formerly detained in the US’s Guantanamo Bay torture camp, spoke to the crowd.

He said Islamophobia is a global issue, from the “Iraq war and Afghanistan war” to Islamophobia in Britain through, for example, government programmes such as Prevent. 

Begg added, "Some people say this is a conspiracy against China by America. As a victim of America, I can say this is no conspiracy—China and America work hand in hand.”

“China wants Uyghur groups to be put on the US terror watch lists.

“We stand against Chinese imperialism, colonisation and opposition to Islam.”

Read China, the Uyghurs and the left by Simon Gilbert here

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