Striking similarity between China’s oppression of Uighurs and Modi Govt’s demonization of Indian Muslims

Dr Ahmed Mohiuddin Siddiqui for BeyondHeadlines

This week a sensitive official document compiled by the Chinese government about the on-going oppression of the Uighurs from Turkestan (Xinjiang) was out in the public domain. The document was released by Holland based Uighur, Asiye Abdulaheb with grave risk to her immediate family and relatives in Turkestan. A perusal of the document presents striking similarities between China and the Narendra Modi government’s treatment and demonization of the Muslims. It is a good sign that the people of India have woken up to the dangers of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

People irrespective of caste, creed and region have voiced their concerns against the totalitarian and majoritarian attempts to isolate, disenfranchise and deport Muslims and take away reservations from the Dalits and the Adivasis. For a change, the judiciary has until now, defended the right to peaceful protests.

Both the Han Chinese and the Sanghi Hindus consider themselves as nationalists. In China, ‘Chinese’ is the only recognized identity just like the Hindu identity in India. Any other identity in both these countries is considered as anti-national. Both point towards totalitarian and majoritarian tendencies.

To root out this perceived disloyalty, in China, the state has had to find ways to penetrate deep into Uighur homes and hearts. Towards this end, in early 2017, when the internment campaign began in earnest, groups of loyal Communist Party workers, known as “village-based work teams”, began to rake through the peaceful Uighur society with a massive dragnet. With each communist member assigned a number of households, they visited, befriended and took detailed notes about the “religious atmosphere” in the Uighur homes; for example, how many copies of Quran they had or whether religious rites were observed regularly. The information thus collected formed the basis of sending the Uighurs to the internment camps.

In Kashmir and Assam, a similar exercise was conducted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to befriend the Muslims through the Rashtriya Muslim Manch (RMM). The results are visible now with the scrapping of Article 370 and classifying about 5 lakh Muslims in Assam as foreigners. The proposed detention centres seem to be a photocopy of the Chinese internment camps. There are euphemisms to call these camps as ‘re-education camps’ in China. Similarly, one day you will find Modi’s cabinet colleague Mukhtar Naqvi Abbas defending the detention centres in the future. He is very likely to say that Muslims have been sent to ‘Hunar Haats’ (Skill Centres). 

The detailed information gathering in China has been used to sweep people into horror camps. It demonstrates, for example, how China has used the concept of “guilt by association” to incriminate and detain whole extended family networks in Xinjiang. Similarly, in India, not just the suspects but the entire family and the extended families seem to be targeted. The information collected by the village teams in China was also fed into Xinjiang’s big data system, called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP).

The IJOP contains the Turkestan region’s surveillance and policing records, culled from a vast network of cameras and the intrusive mobile spyware every Chinese citizen is forced to download. The IJOP has also used Artificial Intelligence (AI) to cross-reference these layers of data and send “push notifications” to the village teams to investigate a particular Uighur individual. Punishments are retrospective. For example, the Chinese document mentions in Rows 179, 315 and 345, which contain a series of assessments for a 65-year-old man called Yusup.

His collected record shows that two daughters “wore veils and burqas in 2014 and 2015″, a son with Islamic political leanings and a family that displays “obvious anti-Han sentiment”. The daughters are punished today for the ‘crime’ of wearing a burqa in 2014 and 2015.

The scary scenario of hate and punishment against niqab and burqa was allegedly re-enacted against the niqab wearing girl students of Jamia Millia Islamia, who were protesting against the CAA. As part of Modi government’s repression, the girls’ niqabs were allegedly torn down with communal slurs, standing on the girls’ thighs, hitting on their breasts and in their private parts. At least, ‘punishment’ in this incident was not retrospective like in China. Even if Indo-Chinese border issues remain unresolved, there seems to be total Indo – Chinese agreement on how to tackle the niqab-burqa issue!

The Chinese document has mentioned in the remarks against the Uighurs as ‘untrustworthy’ as a reason for internment. It is very similar to the NRC document in Assam, which described some citizens as ‘doubtful.’ The vanishing and re-appearing NRC has a unique record with even the name of the brother of former President of India Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed appearing as ‘doubtful.’

Even the army heroes who fought against our arch-enemy Pakistan were dubbed as ‘doubtful.’ They reaped relatively high dividends for their ‘desh bhakti!

Going by the NRC experiences in Assam, the enlightened citizens of our great country have clearly understood the game plan of the Narendra Modi government to strike at the democratic ethos of our country which unites us. There are no ‘doubts’ about the ‘prove your citizenship’ gamble and gauntlet thrown at the Indian masses. Whatever happens to the CAA, the Modi government will not breathe easy to implement the NPR and NRC, going by the mood of the protesting citizens.

Disclaimer: The views or opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of BeyondHeadlines.

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