Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
by Rushan Abbas
Crickets. Silence. This is what Uyghur women face every single International Women’s Day from women around the world. No group of women is suffering more today than Uyghur women, in land occupied by China while my people are facing active genocide. Women in East Turkistan, referred to as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the Chinese government.
The human cost of this genocide is staggering. You may have heard of the Uyghurs before, and how there are millions of them detained in concentration camps. Or that the cotton of the Uyghur homeland picked by the Uyghur slaves could be in as many as 1 in every 5 garments worldwide. Or you may have heard of mass organ harvesting. Or perhaps you’ve heard it in the context of the systematic sexual violence. We have heard from too many survivors now of the horrors experienced in the camps. Uyghur women are targeted by the regime, forced to undergo sterilization, have IUDs implanted, or abortions. Families are separated and some never reunited. Uyghur women’s bodies have become the battlefield that the Uyghur genocide takes place on. Uyghur women are “incentivized” to marry Han Chinese men.
To add insult to the silence of the West is the fact that Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping’s wife, serves as a UNESCO Special Envoy for The Advancement of Girls’ and Women’s Education. Does UNESCO think torture camps disguised as so-called “re-education centers” are advancing education? What about mass indoctrination and brainwashing? How about mass rape? What about forbidding the Uyghur language, and having Uyghur women recite communist party slogans as loudly as they can for hours, days, weeks and years?
It is reprehensible that Pen Liyuan was ever permitted to hold this honor. Now that the world knows, it must be revoked immediately. She holds this honor while millions of women are relentlessly tortured in Chinese state-run concentration camps. They are sterilized and gang raped and tortured with electric shocks. Former Uyghur women detainees who were lucky enough to marry other countries' citizens or hold other countries passports, speak of being forced to ingest unknown mind-altering drugs that made them stop menstruating. Most will never see their husbands or families again. Upon release they are sent out to factory jobs as slave laborers, turning cotton into textiles sold around the world.
The fact that Pen Liyuan has been charged with “supporting girls’ and women’s empowerment through quality education,” sickens me to think about. Thousands of Uyghur children are ripped from their mothers arms in East Turkistan. These children are placed into state run schools where they will never see their mothers again. They live in state-run orphanages even though their parents are still alive. These orphanages are mentally and physically abusive. They are punished for speaking their native language and from making mention of any reference to their past lives, families or culture. Does UNESCO condone these actions?
Pen Liyuan serves as a despicable mouthpiece for the Chinese regime. While she sits merrily on the UNESCO board speaking for the best interests of women and children, Uyghur women are forced to marry Han Chinese men, where they will be raped nightly. If they refuse they will be sent to prison, where they may also likely be sexually abused. Where are the world’s women as Uyghur women’s hair is forcibly cut and sold to make thousands of wigs? Why do so few speak out, when our Uyghur relatives go missing one, by one. When Uyghurs speak out, we face unimaginable consequences. There is no punishment for women of the rest of the world to speak up. You risk nothing. When I spoke up about China’s brutal repression, my sister was imprisoned as a hostage.
My sister, Gulshan Abbas, a peaceful, retired medical doctor, is one such victim. I have not heard from her since September 2018. She was sentenced harshly by the Chinese regime on false charges. I have not heard from her since. She joins millions of missing Uyghurs vanished into China’s hundreds of torture camps they falsely call “re-education centers.” Every person who has been interviewed after leaving a re-education center either experienced torture firsthand, or witnessed others tortured, usually both.
Xi Jinping’s wife must be removed from her post immediately and prohibited from serving on any other boards. I also called on the World Health Organization to terminate her from the position of “Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.” Her serving on this board is an insult to millions of Uyghurs who are denied treatment for illnesses in prison, routinely starved, beaten, and tortured in every imaginable way. This is an international scandal. Americans must demand Pen Liyuan give up her position. Otherwise, Western nations should immediately stop funding UNESCO. Otherwise, our actions are horrifically hypocritical, resulting in the torture of millions.
International women of the world must use their voices to speak against China’s oppression. They must also demand Pen Liyuan be removed from every board with a conscious or soul at once! Particularly a board overseeing health or the education of women and children! While she travels the world talking about women’s empowerment, Uyghur women are facing horrors in East Turkistan. Women’s organizations and feminist allies have the ability to question and challenge our government are noticeably silent. Uyghur women live in a completely censored environment. No information comes and no information goes from that torture vacuum chamber. Only women around the world can amplify Uyghur women’s voices and break through this muteness. The silence is so deafening it burns the ears.
China’s war on humanity is blatant. This is a war against women, a war against children, a war against original thought, democracy, and human values. â€‹â€‹And yet, so much of the world remains quiet. The Chinese communist party’s manipulation and control go beyond the borders of China and not only into the Uyghurs diaspora abroad. China continues it’s attempts to silence freethinking societies, the NBA, NFL, Hollywood, academia, media and others who also financially benefit from China and this genocide. Celebrities, talk show hosts, feminists and others who are usually so vocal against any sort of social injustice are voiceless today, because the perpetrator is China and it has the money and power!
With Beijing’s current aggression, it is not just the future of the Uyghurs that is at stake with China’s genocidal policies but also democracy and freedom of our world is at stake!
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