Activist hoping for action after documents reveal Chinese mistreatment of Uighurs worldwide
Former Windsor, Ont. resident Alim Ablimit says his uncle is currently detained by the Chinese government
Former Windsor resident and Uighur activist Alim Ablimit says he hopes the international community takes action following the release of leaked documents that show a snapshot of the Chinese government's mistreatment of Uighurs living in China and around the world.
The documents — identified as the China Cables — were obtained, verified and translated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in collaboration with CBC News and other media organizations around the world.
The China Cables highlight the Chinese government's efforts to track the Uighur population living outside of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region — sometimes referred to as occupied East Turkestan by Uighur separatists — as well as the Chinese Communist Party's attempts to arrest Uighurs with foreign citizenship upon their return to China.
The highly classified internal government documents obtained by the ICIJ are from 2017.
According to Ablimit, who now lives in London, Ont. and continues to speak up for Uighurs oppressed in China, the facts presented in the documents aren't surprising, but provide evidence to back up claims made by Uighurs regarding the Chinese government's treatment of the largely Muslim minority group.
Ablimit described the Chinese government's control over the Uighur population in Xinjiang as a "genocide," adding that the Chinese Communist Party's intention "was just to eradicate the whole Uighur nation, their culture, their identity and their religion."
As an example, Ablimit said his uncle is currently detained by the Chinese government for publishing an elementary school book in the Uighur language.
"That was his crime and that's the reason he's been rounded up into a concentration camp," said Ablimit.
Ablimit says he hopes members of the public will see the documents and believe the Uighur's living in Canada who are calling for action.
"When we talk to people, like the general Canadian public … some of them think that we're exaggerating," he said. "But these leaked documents … I think is very beneficial to the international world and the people who are not believing the Uighurs."
Bilkis Muhammad, a Uighur woman living in Windsor, echoed Ablimit, saying that the leaked documents "prove the true nature of the Chinese communist regime and [show] how China cracks down on Uighurs."
Muhammad says her own brother had been detained in a detention camp for some time, but was told he was released in September, though she still hasn't been able to get in touch with him.
She said said she hopes the leaked China Cables encourage the "Western world [to] take reactions seriously [and] take real action."
Nearly 11 million Uighurs live in Xinjiang. Some estimates suggest between one million and three million Uighurs have been detained by the Chinese government.
With files from Tahmina Aziz