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Training centres? Draw the line when it comes to human rights

P Ramasamy
Published:

ADUN SPEAKS | It is regrettable that the de facto Islamic affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa would describe the concentration camps in the Xinjiang province in China as training centres for the Uighurs.

For this, he has been criticised by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International.

Mujahid made this remark after he led a delegation from Malaysia to ascertain whether the Chinese government was using the camps to contain the rebellious Uighurs.

Mujahid’s remark undermines Malaysia's stand as the champion of Islamic causes.

It, therefore, appears that Malaysia is willing to modify its policy on Muslims in general when it suits its political and strategic purpose.

While it is understandable that Malaysia has sought to embrace China for investments, it is not clear why human rights abuses in China should be ignored.

China’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities is of serious concern to international human rights organisations.

In particular, the treatment of the Uighurs in the restive autonomous province of Xinjiang leaves much to be desired.

For long, China has been grappling with the problems posed by Uighurs in seeking cultural and religious autonomy from the Chinese government.

Islam has been a powerful factor in the struggle of the Uighurs.

The Chinese government has been less than receptive to the demands of the Uighur activists and intellectuals.

China’s response was typical: hundreds, if not thousands, of Uighurs have been arrested and kept in rehabilitation camps which the officials have described as training places.

However, in 2018, BBC in a report described these places as concentration camps where recalcitrant Uighurs are “educated” to become good citizens of China.

Mujahid, after given an official tour, agreed with Chinese authorities that these camps were indeed training centres.

Nothing can be further from the truth!

Malaysia is a champion of Muslims only when it comes to the treatment of the Palestinians and the Rohingya in Myanmar.

However, it is silent on the treatment of Muslims in places like China and, for that matter, in countries that Malaysia enjoys sound economic and strategic partnership.

In the past, when some Uighurs activists sought asylum in Malaysia, the request was denied and they were deported to China.

One wonders whether these refugees are still alive or interned in the concentration camps or “training centres”, according to our good minister.

Yes, there is nothing wrong in seeking investments from China or any other countries. But then there is a line to be drawn when it comes to human rights.

I am disappointed with Mujahid for toeing the Chinese official line!


P RAMASAMY is the state assemblyperson for Perai. He is also deputy chief minister II of Penang.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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