Harold Ohayon
A Wandering New Yorker

East Turkestan Mustn’t Become a Second Tibet

An authoritative regime, drunk on power and fueled by paranoia, scours the land to find bodies to punish. The victims of persecution suffer countless humiliating blows: their culture is oppressed, their language is shunned, and their history is erased. Once these aspects are eliminated, the next phase picks up in earnest. Once the soul of a people is wiped clean, the body is next. People are rounded up, tormented, abused and then eliminated.

This metaphorical scene repeatedly plays out throughout the world. It is painfully obvious that humanity has within it the capacities to unleash unspeakable horrors against fellow members of the human race. And yet despite countless outcries, the pattern never breaks. The wheel never ceases to spin. And the earth continues to swallow the corpses of the fallen.

As you read this article, another episode of ethnic cleansing is unfolding in the hinterlands of China. The Chinese regime is no stranger to such policies: upon seizing control of Tibet in 1950, the army of the People’s Republic of China unleashed a storm upon the populace. Thousands of Tibetans were massacred, and thousands of monasteries and religious centers were burned to ashes. All vestiges of Tibetan culture became targets for destruction. And while the region of Tibet still exists today, it does so only as a shadow of its former self. With its soul destroyed and occupied, Tibet now stands as a Chinese tourist spot filled with cheaply made kitsch and remnants of former glory.

The world sporadically bemoans the fate of Tibet, yet no one has ever challenged China in an attempt to alleviate the suffering of that oppressed people. Instead, world leaders offer up hollow platitudes when they meet the Dalai Lama and give phony statements of solidarity. And when the cameras are turned off, these very same leaders kiss the ring of those in Beijing and continue on under a ‘business as usual mindset’ in regards to the Chinese. And so Tibet dies a little more every day.

The Chinese government is now targeting another ethnic minority within its borders, this time focusing on the Uyghurs of East Turkestan. The daily stories trickling out of the region are deeply troubling: civilians are being rounded up and arrested, houses of worship are being destroyed, martial law has been declared and concentration camps have been established. And so begins the systematic elimination of the Uyghur people. Reports from survivors of these camps speak about abuse and indoctrination. They are forced to bow before the Chinese Communist Party and to renounce their ethnic culture and heritage. Those that disobey are brutally attacked and punished. As the nightmare continues, it is becoming evidently clear that the Chinese intend to make East Turkestan the next Tibet.

In a day and age of overdramatic hysterics, it is baffling how the Uyghur issue is met largely with silence. In today’s world, marches and outrage can be fomented if someone uses the wrong pronoun or if someone wears paraphernalia of the wrong political party. Yet when faced with the subjugation and ethnic cleansing of an entire people, these very same bleeding-heart activists remain silent. Why? Everyone who truly cares about human rights must make their voices heard and speak for the speechless Uyghur people. The Chinese regime brutally cracks down on any dissent and severely limits the ability of people to voice their protests. We must serve as the mouthpieces of the Uyghur people. How many more Tibets will the world allow before finally standing up against Chinese oppression?

About the Author
Expat New Yorker living in the Land of the Rising Sun: Trekking to random parts of the globe, debating countless things under the sun, and attempting to learn to cook Korean food.
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