Uighur activists in the US organised a protest and took out a march to celebrate their community’s ‘Independence Day’ in Washington D.C Tuesday, a report by Al Jazeera stated. November 12 marks the 74th and 85th anniversary of two short-lived Uighur republics, known as East Turkestan, established in now China-territory.
The event was organised by he East Turkistan National Awakening Movement and was attended by Rebiya Kadeer, prominent exiled Uighur and the former president of the World Uyghur Congress.
The activists protest outside the White House, calling on the US to pressure China into stopping its persecution of the Muslim minority in the autonomous Xinjiang province.
The UN had criticized China for keeping one million Muslims in internment camps where they are politically and culturally indoctrinated to the communist party’s agenda. In a report it said around two million people had passed through the camps at some point.
China is also accused of forcing the Uighurs to renounce their Islamic beliefs and drop cultural markers that make them distinct from the country’s ethnic Han majority.
Chinese authorities have banned fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadhan, as well as Quran classes for young children.
“China has put at least three million people in concentration camps,” American-Uighur Aydin Anwar said, as cited by AJ, adding, “In these camps they’re forced to renounce Islam, adopt atheism, and pledge allegiance to the Chinese state.”
A spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC was asked for a comment and responded with directing to a state media interview with Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of the Xinjiang government.
In the article, Zakir seeks to place China’s treatment of the Uighurs in line with the wider international “War on Terrorism”.
He further described the camps as “vocational training institutions” aimed at, “learning the country’s common language, legal knowledge, vocational skills, along with de-extremisation education, as the main content, with achieving employment as the key direction. “