Faith leaders, including 20 British Rabbis, call for urgent action on Xinjiang ‘potential genocide’
Appealing for an international investigation, the signatories said that repression in Xinjiang is ‘one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust’
Twenty British rabbis are among 76 faith leaders in the UK, North America and South-East Asia to sign an open letter calling for urgent action to prevent “the potential genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslims in China”.
The letter, which was published on Saturday, was signed by faith leaders from the UK, the United States, Canada, Italy, Burma and Indonesia.
Its signatories represent a myriad of denominations of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, as well as Humanism and Tibetan Buddhism.
The statement reads that the persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s far western region of Xinjiang is “the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust”.
The letter appeals for an international investigation into Chinese policies in Xinjiang and for those responsible for “crimes” to be held to account.
“We have seen many persecutions and mass atrocities,” the letter reads, “these need our attention. But there is one that, if allowed to continue with impunity, calls into question most seriously the willingness of the international community to defend universal human rights for everyone – the plight of the Uyghurs.”
China is reportedly holding over one million people, mostly Uyghurs, in internment camps throughout Xinjiang and has subjected the region’s Muslim population to abuse and mistreatment that include forced labour, surveillance, and stringent restrictions on the practice of religious and cultural practices.
Critics, including Uyghur rights groups, have said that the Chinese campaign amounts to cultural genocide.
Jewish leaders formed over one-quarter of the signatories, which also included dozens of Muslim leaders, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, London’s Coptic-Orthodox Archbishop Angaelos, and the Catholic Cardinals of Myanmar and Indonesia.
Among the Jewish signatories include the Senior Sephardi Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi at Golders Green Synagogue Dr Harvey Belovski, the Interim Director of Liberal Judaism Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, and Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger.
The authors of the open letter pointed to recent reports that suggested that a campaign of forced sterilisation of Uyghur women in an effort to suppress population growth – “an action which, according to the 1948 Genocide Convention, could elevate this to the level of genocide.”
“The clear aim of the Chinese authorities is to eradicate the Uyghur identity,” the faith leaders write.
The text compares the repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang to the Holocaust, writing: “After the Holocaust, the world said ‘Never Again’. Today, we repeat those words ‘Never Again’, all over again.”
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