I HAVE done a lot of things in my life I am ashamed of. Like that time in form six when I accidentally ran over my then girlfriend’s dog Roscoe, threw the body in the river behind my house, then pretended to look for Roscoe around the neighbourhood, while also comforting my girlfriend by saying “look on the bright side; maybe Roscoe ran away because he found a better family”.
Looking back, I acknowledge it was completely wrong of me to do that. I should have at least given Roscoe a proper burial by dumping him in the Caroni River.
Nevertheless, I can at least rest assured that nothing I have ever done in life is as shameful as what transpired this week at the United Nations, where China was elected to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). For those readers whose only perception of China is shaped by Jackie Chan movies, China is an ancient and culturally rich civilisation that is currently ruled by a brutal repressive regime that commits horrendous human rights abuses. Or to put it simply China having a seat on the UNHRC is like OJ Simpson having a seat on the UN Don’t murder your wife council.
As any politically savvy person with a Facebook page knows, Donald Trump is the evillest man in the world. He is “literally” Hitler who is turning the United Sates into a version of NAZI Germany. Meanwhile the rest of us who are not complete imbeciles, are amazed how China, a country that is right now rounding up millions of its citizens and putting them into literal (as in the proper use of that word) concentration camps, have somehow managed to generate less outrage than Trump tweeting about what a loser Joe Biden is.
According to reports China is currently committing what amounts to ethnic genocide against its minority Uyghur population in the region of Xinjiang. A report conducted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute suggests that over 100 camp sites exist in Xinjiang in which over one million Uyghurs are forcibly detained without charge. Chinese authorities have said that these camps are simply “re-education” camps where Uyghurs learn valuable life skills such as carpentry, IT repair and how to hold your breath underwater for five minutes while being electrocuted.
But first-hand reports smuggled out of these camps paint a horrifying picture of torture and abuse with persons kept in high security cages. Mihrigul Tursun, a 30-year-old woman who was detained at one these campsites and later released told a US congressional hearing in 2018 that she and other detainees were routinely beaten and starved. She also said one of her children died while she was detained.
Added to the beat of the deafening silence to all if this is the fact that the Uyghurs are also predominately Muslim. It is beyond grotesque that countries at the United Nations, (including Muslim majority countries) who take every opportunity they get to chastise Israel, laying the blame for the Palestinian -Israeli conflict squarely on Tel Aviv don’t appear to have anything to say about China’s open persecution of Muslims. Maybe they don’t see it as an important issue. Or maybe for them, there aren’t enough Jews in China to blame it on.
Why you ask is China even doing any of this? Well the Chinese communist party have long viewed all religious groups with suspicion. Followers of Falun Gong for example, a religious movement based on mediation, were persecuted during the 1990s in much the same way as the Uyghurs. Current news stories suggest that Falun Gong members are now being killed for their organs. But that’s another column. Getting back to the Uyghurs, apart from possessing a religious identity, they also live in Xinjiang, which happens to be an essential geographical part of China’s one belt one road (OBOR) programme.
For those readers unfamiliar with OBOR it’s a debt trap, sorry I mean it’s an “infrastructural initiative” in which China dishes out billions in soft loans to developing countries to build projects such as ports and railways. If in the highly likely event a country should default on their debt, don’t worry, the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t want anything in return, except for complete control of the said ports and railway lines.
Hey now that I’ve written all this down, I notice an amazing coincidence. Some countries such as Pakistan, Belarus, Sir Lanka, and Syria which have openly defended China over its actions with regards to the Uyghurs, have also received money via OBOR. What a small world. Hey by the way do you know T&T is also part of OBOR. And coincidently our Port is now “up for sale”, for some “lucky buyer”. I wonder who he or Xi may be. But that’s also another column.
China can take some consolation that they won’t be the only repressive regime to now have to appear to care about Human Rights. Joining them on the UNHRC will be Russia who was presumably chosen for its strong record of openly murdering journalists and poisoning opposition leaders. And also Cuba, the socialist paradise with no toilet paper which imprisons people who use the internet without permission.
Sadly, there was no place this year for Saudi Arabia who didn’t garner enough votes. You would think the devastating Saudi-backed war in Yemen which is leaving millions displaced would make Saudis an automatic shoe in for the UNHRC. But don’t worry Saudi Arabia. These votes come up every three years. There is always next time, so don’t stop believing in yourselves or committing atrocities.
• Darryn Boodan is a freelance writer