Daniel Roth
Daniel Roth

Don’t Mention the Uighurs

Nothing enrages the mullahs in Tehran more than the existence of the world’s only Jewish state, especially when the Palestinian conflict is roiling. So, as the IAF responded to 4,000 Hamas missiles raining down on Israeli civilians over the last 11 days, Iran has been cranking up the vitriol to eleven. Never mind that Hamas rockets don’t discriminate between Jew or Muslim, or that Israel narrowly targets terrorists and their infrastructure. It is always politic for Iran to frame these issue in religious terms and themes. After all, Ayatollah Khamenei professes to be “Guardian Commander of Muslims,” a fierce champion for all Muslims worldwide.

Except he is nothing of the sort: not for Muslims in Syria, in Russia, and least of all in China.

Until recently, the regime has maintained a tactful hush while the Chinese Communists have been systematically torturing, raping and otherwise ‘re-educating’ up to one million Uighur Muslims in secret internment camps since at least 2017 as part of its “people’s war on terror.”

The ‘hush’ was punctuated in 2019 when Iran signed on to a letter addressed to the President of the Human Rights Council (HRC) at the United Nations. Astonishingly, the letter did not censure China. Indeed, it was a letter of commendation in favor of China’s brutalization: “Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism,” it contended, “China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjian, including setting up vocational education and training centers… We note with appreciation that human rights are respected and protected in China in the process of counter-terrorism and deradicalization.”

Iran’s part in that shameless endorsement was dissipated by the fact that 49 other countries likewise signed on, but clearly it was a sign of things to come.

Now, with the signing of the ‘Strategic Partnership’ agreement between Presidents Xi and Rouhani in January this year, Iran’s complicity in this true 21st century anti-Muslim atrocity has become explicit and official government policy – at least for the next quarter-century.

The agreement affirms both countries’ commitment to the ‘principle’ of “non-interference in the internal affairs of countries,” while recognizing “terrorism, extremism and separatism as threats against all humanity and the global peace and stability.” In other words, China demands not only that Iran “don’t mention the Uighurs” – but also accept that Beijing has the right and indeed the responsibility to round up and brutalize Turkic Muslims, all for the advancement of “global peace.”

And in return for Tehran’s acquiescence, China pledges to keep buying Iranian oil while likewise overlooking all the horrific human rights abuses that Iran perpetrates on its own ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ people and anti-regime journalists and dissidents.

Of course it is no great surprise that the Iranian regime turns a blind eye to outrageous acts of persecution.

The only things Khamenei, the great Champion of Muslims, has managed to successfully “champion” in his 32 years in the top job are domestic cruelty, overseas terrorism and a bourgeoning nuclear weapons program. In this domain, his and the regime’s rancor are nakedly opportunistic – reserved exclusively for Israel and the United States – and Iran’s collusion with China clearly belies any genuine solidarity with oppressed co-religionists in other countries. It is unfortunate nonetheless that many otherwise rational people across the West also echo Iran’s false, divisive rhetoric and hypocritical stance.

About the Author
Daniel Roth is Director of Research at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) in New York. He leads UANI’s business intelligence and corporate engagement efforts.
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