The persecution of the Uighur people shows we have not learnt the lessons from genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia – Olivia Marks-Woldman
A video is currently circulating in British media which appears to show people with shaved heads, blindfolded, surrounded by armed guards and waiting to be put on a train. The overwhelming evidence suggests these are Uighur (or Uyghur) people, a Muslim group based in China’s Xinjiang region.
This is not the first report of its kind. Over the last couple of years we at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) have been deeply concerned hearing evidence of people being separated from their families and disappearing, being forced into “re-education camps” by armed guards, and children being taken away to be taught outside of their culture and religion. A recent shipment of human hair which arrived in the US is suspected to be from Uighur people held in these camps. This all follows a long history of prejudice and persecution.
The evidence is all there. We can see what is happening. Despite the challenges facing journalists trying to report from the region, the information which we are seeing is clear, and the world knows what is taking place. But is this knowledge enough to prompt international action?
Over 100 days in 1994, the genocide in Rwanda took place. As the genocide began, United Nations forces were withdrawn from the area. The international community knew what was happening and the UN Security Council debated whether to act. While they did so, whole families were slaughtered in their homes, on their streets, and in churches where they sheltered. The response was too late. Approximately one million Tutsis were murdered. Today, many Rwandans are still asking why the international community failed to step in, leaving whole communities to be murdered.
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