Abbas visit to China throws Uyghurs under the bus


Last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited China to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The visit is a clear sign that the Palestinian leadership has given up on the United States as a fair broker in the so-called "peace process," as the US has an openly pronounced pro-Israel bias. While it is understandable to weaken the American monopoly on the situation in Palestine, it is unacceptable to support China's oppression of the Muslim Uyghur people of Xinjiang. Furthermore, it is incomprehensible and immoral for the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to support the genocidal practices perpetrated by China against the Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in the region of Xinjiang, which the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.” 

The Xinjiang province is home to millions of ethnic minority Uyghur Muslims who are subjected to systemic harassment and internment by the Chinese government. These camps, called re-education camps, are run to replace Uyghur Muslims' ethnic, religious, or cultural identity with the Chinese national identity, which is associated with the ethnic Han majority. Experts refer to it as the "largest mass internment of an ethnic-religious minority group since World War II," when Jews were held, tortured, and murdered in Nazi concentration camps.

During his visit to China last week, Abbas voiced his support for these heinous Chinese policies. A joint statement issued shortly after Abbas met with Chinese President Xi Jinping last Wednesday declared that “Xinjiang-related issues are not human rights issues at all, but anti-violent terrorism, de-radicalization, and anti-separatism.” It added, “Palestine firmly opposes interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of Xinjiang-related issues.” And that the Chinese policy toward Muslims in Xinjiang has "nothing to do with human rights and is aimed at excising extremism and opposing terrorism and separatism.” 

It is unacceptable to use the just and noble cause of Palestine as cover for China’s crimes against the Uyghur people. It is deplorable that those who claim to represent oppressed people endorse the oppression of another people. Just as the Palestinian people are victims of a brutal Israeli apartheid regime, the Uyghur people are also victims of a systematic campaign of erasure perpetrated by the Chinese government. Justice is an indivisible value, and principled moral positions are non-negotiable. Palestinians stand with the Uyghur people, who suffer no less than them.