World News The World

Why don’t we care about China’s torture of Uyghur Muslims?

Many people view China as a wonderful country but what many might not know is that China is brutally killing and detaining its own people, the Uyghur people.

The autonomous region of Xinjiang is home to over 11 million Muslims and most of them belong to the Uyghurs. The Uyghurs are a minority Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the regions of Central and East Asia.

Between 1 and 3 million Uyghur have been detained in detention camps and the Chinese government has been reportedly expanding these camps to suppress and separate the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

China has over 85 reported detention camps used to detain, interrogate and beat Uyghurs. The government denied their existence for years. But after images emerged of camp buildings with barbed wires and watchtowers, the government admitted that these are not camps but rather, re-educational schools for Muslims to change their supposed aggressive behavior and to deal with Islamic extremism. The Chinese government claims that Uyghurs in those camps are treated well and are not forced to change their beliefs or religion but it’s a lie.

Uyghur woman and mother of three, Mihrigul Tursun, told the story of her horrific experience to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

She was forced to leave her husband in Egypt and go back to China where she was then detained. Her triplets were taken from her and when she asked to see them she discovered one of them had died. She says that she and other women detained with her were forced to take unknown pills and get injections every day.

China has over 85 reported detention camps used to detain, interrogate and beat Uyghurs.

They were also forced to pray for the chairman of the Communist Chinese Party to live long and sing songs hailing the communism. She was then released from the camps and had two men living with her and following her everywhere.

In her story, she mentioned that she was detained three different times without any reason and after leaving the camp for the third time she learned that her husband, who flew to China to look for her, is currently detained and in prison.

Her story was then transferred into a manga, a style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, that illustrated the story. The news surrounding her experience caused people to call out the Chinese government for their atrocities.

Some people started raising more awareness about the crisis, like soccer player Mesut Ozil who recently tweeted that the Uyghur were “warriors who resist persecution” while also pointing out the silence of Muslims and the world. Then it was announced that Ozil was officially removed from the new release of three different video games that a Chinese company makes.

But why are Uyghurs and Muslims targeted in China?

Fear and hate. Authorities fear that because of their religious beliefs, they might commit crimes so they need to be kept under supervision until they are freed from their extreme thoughts. Authorities claim that Uyghurs are a threat to security pointing out attacks that happened back in 2013 and 2014 when Uyghur militias took responsibility for it.

In addition to these horrible camp conditions, women are being violated and families separated. Thousands of Uyghur Muslim parents reported that their children have been missing. Authorities are keeping the parents away from their children and from obtaining any information about their whereabouts. 

Recently, The New York Times released leaked documents from the Chinese government that shows that the government is showing “No Mercy” to its Muslim minorities. The UN Human Rights Council heard that China is harvesting a massive number of human organs from Uyghur Muslims, while China denies it.

Calls for boycotting Chinese products are happening across the world.

People are also calling for a boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics to show the government and authorities these acts are unforgivable. Religious persecution is unforgivable. It is wrong and it needs to stop happening worldwide. The conditions Uyghurs are facing must end and the Chinese government needs to face trial for their crimes.

Thousands of Uyghur Muslim parents reported that their children have been missing.

Islam is not a religion of crime, terrorism, hatred or oppression. It’s a religion that promotes peace, freedom, love and good manners. Not allowing people to freely practice their religion or faith is what oppression, hate, and terrorism look like.

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Policy Inequality

The Holocaust isn’t the only genocide that Germany needs to be held accountable for

When you think of a German-led genocide in the twentieth century, the Holocaust may come to mind. In all its ugliness, the Holocaust constituted a series of inhumane living conditions, brutal medical experiments, and other truly, truly horrific crimes against humanity. However, this also fits the description of the Herero-Nama genocide, which took place in German-occupied South-West Africa, now Namibia.

Unlike Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, the Herero and Nama people have not received reparations from Germany. You may have never heard of it, either. I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of it until a few months ago either. This lack of recognition and education about the Herero-Nama genocide, unfortunately, seems commonplace in the West.

So, what happened? In January 1904, the Herero and Nama people attempted to lead a rebellion to overthrow German colonial powers twenty years after German colonized the region. Unfortunately, their attempts to gain sovereignty over their land were unsuccessful, and the Germans responded with intense violence. Thousands of Herero and Nama people were subsequently taken from their homes and shot. Those who survived this initial slaughter escaped into the Namib Desert, where German forces guarded its borders and trapped survivors. This genocide “resulted in the annihilation of approximately 80 [percent] of the Herero people and 50 [percent] of the Nama people.”

The German government has since apologized for the atrocities committed against the Herero and Nama people, but descendants of survivors have yet to see any financial compensation or the return of land.

The colonial legacy left behind by the German colonizers in Namibia is blatant. German is still recognized as a national language. White Namibians, the descendants of German colonizers, control 90 percent of the country’s land. Efforts by black Namibians to gain control of land where their ancestors lived before nearly being wiped out under German colonial rule have been unfruitful.

The experiences of the Herero and Nama people should be enough to receive reparations, including receiving control back over their ancestors’ land. The 1985 United Nations Whitaker Report on Genocide established that the atrocities committed against the Herero and Nama people at the beginning of the twentieth century qualifies as genocide, just like the Holocaust. Why, 40 years later, hasn’t Germany taken measures to adequately address this genocide when they often take responsibility for their crimes during World War II? 

Germany has given several lackluster excuses for its inability to provide reparations. The German government argued that because they had led development projects in and gave aid to Namibia, they would not need to give reparations.  The real reason, though, maybe attributed to implicit racial biases.  Predominantly white German leaders may have been quick to give reparations and apologize for the brutality of the Nazis because it affected white people living in Europe and conditionally white Jews. When it comes to violence on black and brown bodies in Africa, however, it’s a different story.

Herero and Nama people have continued to fight to receive reparations from Germany despite Germany’s reluctance to even entertain giving reparations. In 2018, a U.S. court heard the case from descendants of survivors of this genocide. They sued Germany for financial “reparations akin to those Jewish Holocaust survivors received after World War II” and for direct negotiations with Germany on how to figure out how to “reckon with colonial-era atrocities.” Unfortunately, in March 2019, a  U.S. judge dismissed this lawsuit, saying that “Germany was immune from claims by descendants of the Herero and Nama tribes.” On May 7 2019, however, lawyers representing the Herero and Nama Plaintiffs in New York filed a motion U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to have their case reviewed again.

Despite this setback, the Herero and Nama people have scored some victories in their quest to receive justice. In 2018, Germany returned the skulls of Herero-Nama genocide victims, (which were initially sent to Germany to conduct research on the racial superiority of white Europeans) back to Namibia. This success shows that the activism by Herero and Nama people to receive justice for genocide victims and survivors is working.

The Herero and Nama people deserve reparations for the genocide that their ancestors survived. Germany’s extremely delayed recognition of returning the skulls of genocide victims and even recognizing this genocide, alongside their refusal to give reparations, shows that we cannot expect them to reckon with the Herero-Nama genocide for the sake of doing the right thing. The activism that the descendants of survivors of the Herero-Nama genocide have done in an attempt to receive reparations deserves more international recognition and should not be in vain.

Note: A lawyer representing the Herero and Nama people in New York reached out to the writer after the publication of this article with information about the U.S. Court of Appeals filing. 

LGBTQIA+ The World

Chechnya is torturing LGBT people in concentration camps, and no one is saying anything

It’s been over a year since Chechnya began placing gay men in concentration camps, systematically exterminating them just as Hitler did over 70 years ago. However, the worldwide community has been mostly silent.

In April 2017, Russian newspapers broke the story that over 100 men had been rounded up and placed in 12 detention centers throughout Chechnya. At the time, there were three confirmed dead. A year later, the information coming out of Chechnya has been limited,  and the true death toll as a result of the purges has been hidden.

The purges started in an effort to purify the Chechen state from gay men and women. Ramzan Kadyrov, the current head of the Chechen Republic, has publically remarked that Chechnya has no LGBTQ+ people.

[bctt tweet=”It’s been over a year since Chechnya began placing gay men in concentration camps.” username=”wearethetempest”]

In an interview with HBO, Kadyrov said, “if there are any [LGTBQ+ people], take them to Canada. Praise be to God. Take them far away from us. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”

Chechnya’s anti-LGBTQ+ behavior is majorly supported by the homophobic support of its primary ally, Russia. Russia has been under fire in recent years due to its strict gay propaganda laws. These laws allow the state to detain anyone who is seen supporting an LGBTQ+ lifestyle.

Under Russia’s gaze, Chechnya has found the freedom to continue arresting and torturing men for their sexual orientation. Men are subject to beatings, electrocution, and having food and water withheld during their detention. While they are tortured – the victims are coerced into providing names of other gay men so the government may continue its systematic deletion of an entire population.

[bctt tweet=”In the year and a half since the purges started, only one survivor has come forth and called for an investigation by the Russian government.” username=”wearethetempest”]

In the year and a half since the purges started, only one survivor has come forth and called for an investigation by the Russian government. Survivors are often afraid to report because they fear retaliation from their families.

Few western countries have spoken out publically against Chechnya. The ones that have, such as Germany and Canada have offered asylum to Chechen LGBTQ+ people.

Despite wanting to be a member at the table of the western world, Russia has not sought to extend protections to these people. Many western countries have condemned Russia for its homophobic policies as well as it’s support for Kadyrov’s despicable extermination of gay people.

In April of 2018, Amnesty International called attention to the lack of action taken against the Chechen government. “A year ago,” Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International said. “This shocking news from Chechnya was ridiculed and dismissed by the Russian government. Since then we have witnessed a shocking display of denial, evasion, and inaction by the authorities, who have repeatedly refused to launch an official investigation into the reported heinous crimes and ignored credible evidence provided by Novaya Gazeta and others.”

Since acknowledging the events in 2017, the only statement the United States has made about the atrocities continuing in Chechnya today appeared in a small section about Russia in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017. Neither President Donald Trump or former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have condemned the actions of the Chechen government or the support from the Kremlin. This is despite repeated criticism from other western leaders, such as Angela Merkel or France’s President Emmanuel Macron.

[bctt tweet=”In order for LGBTQ+ people to be safe across the globe, all western nations need to speak out against the atrocities of our neighbors.” username=”wearethetempest”]

In order for LGBTQ+ people to be safe across the globe, all western nations need to speak out against the atrocities of our neighbors. The leaders of the United States have never publicly condemned Vladimir Putin for his homophobic policies, or his support of Kadyrov. It is instrumental that human rights investigations be done, and Chechnya held accountable for its crimes.

Without our governments ensuring others are safe, it means that everyone is at risk.

USA Editor's Picks Politics The World Policy

Trump called immigrants “animals.” Are we headed down a slippery slope?

Two weeks ago President Trump described deported immigrants as “animals.”

Not long after, that verbal dehumanization was codified on an official White House press release entitled “What You Need to Know About the Violent Animals of MS-13.” While Trump and his supporters say he was specifically speaking about members of the gang MS-13, his track record on immigration issues leaves the possibility that he was talking about all immigrants from Central America.

And even if he was only talking about gang members, this kind of language is an extremely dangerous road to start down. 

As many people rightfully pointed out, dehumanizing language is often the prelude to real, physical violence. Consider the Nazi depictions of Jews as “rats” and the Hutu depiction of Tutsis as “cockroaches” in Rwanda. And for examples closer to home, consider the depiction of Africans as “animals” to justify their enslavement and all its attendant brutality.

The argument over whether or not Trump was specifically referring to MS-13 members is semantic and mostly unimportant. The bigger issue is that people are people, regardless of who they are or where they are from, regardless of who they are, where they are from, or what they have done. And people have rights. In some cases, when people have been convicted of crimes, their rights are abridged, such as when people are imprisoned. The process by which we do that in the U.S. is tainted by systemic racism already. Categorizing any person as nonhuman will only make the abuses of our criminal justice system worse.

In 2016, a man died of dehydration in a Milwaukee County jail. Then-Sheriff David Clarke, who ran the jail, and his deputies had denied the prisoner, Terrill Thomas, water for seven days. Others in the jail reported hearing Thomas crying out and begging for water for days before his death. Clarke has been a vocal Trump supporter, and the president is likewise a fan of Clarke’s: Clarke was in talks for a position in the White House last year before John Kelly shut down that idea. Instead, Clarke has become a spokesman and senior advisor for a pro-Trump super PAC.

Last summer, Trump pardoned former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of criminal contempt for his illegal racial profiling in his crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Some other fun facts about Arpaio: he has proudly referred to his jails as “concentration camps,” and has addressed overcrowding by having inmates stay in tents outside in the Arizona heat. His devotion to hunting down undocumented immigrants is so strong that he often failed to actually investigate things like reported sexual assaults in his jurisdiction. During his tenure at Maricopa County, violence against inmates in his care was rife, and its perpetrators rarely punished.

Why would they be, when their boss clearly had such little regard for the lives of immigrants he viewed as criminal?

It’s also important to remember that the state decided what acts are criminal, and to what extent to pursue and punish that criminality.

Remember how the Obama administration decided that although marijuana possession and use was still a federal crime, it would no longer be a high priority for federal law enforcement? Now consider what crimes a Justice Department headed by Jeff Sessions will consider most important to punish, and in particular what criminals a man who was once denied a federal judgeship for a host of racist comments will crack down on the most.

The label of “criminal” has always been more than a specific descriptor of wrongdoing. It is also a broad brush to paint certain groups of people as unworthy of rights of the basic rights they are guaranteed by law. Using the term indiscriminately hurts people, and calling anyone who has committed a crime an animal makes that risk of violence worse.

At a rally on Tuesday night, Trump doubled down on his language, turning it into a new call-and-response chant with his supporters. In the 2016 election, his rallies were sites of violence against people his supporters decided didn’t belong. Cities that hosted him saw increases in violent assaults.

And he seems dead set on whipping up a greater frenzy of animosity towards immigrants.