Maajid Nawaz last night warned China’s persecution of the Uyghurs was being “met with silence, and perhaps even ignorance.”
Describing in precise detail “history’s most technologically sophisticated genocide”, Nawaz told a 700-strong Limmud audience: “If I stand by and am complacent, then what do I say to my children?
“For me, ‘Never Again’ means that if we see genocide happening again, we must not stand by, be complacent and ignore it. Genocide is an atrocity that permanently leaves a stain on the humanity of everyone who is alive at the time of its happening.”
A recent report provided compelling evidence that Chinese authorities are forcing hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs into forced labour, primarily to pick cotton from fields in the western region of Xinjiang.
A five-day hunger strike by Nawaz earlier this year successfully pushed a petition on Uyghur persecution beyond the 100,000 threshold of signatures required for a debate in the UK parliament.
However, the LBC presenter and Quilliam director expressed his frustration that despite October’s debate, “not a single mainstream Western newspaper apart from the Jewish News,” had yet placed the Uyghur’s persecution on its front page.
Jewish News has led a campaign to highlight to MPs the similarities between the Jewish experience of persecution and China’s repression of its Uyghur minority. Images of shaved heads, crammed cells and names replaced by numbers in vast ‘re-education’ camps have been met by communal outcry.
The LBC presenter made his remarks in conversation with Sir Mick Davis, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission of the UK.
Davis stated his growing concern that the ‘Never Again’ pledge “means nothing, because it happens all the time”.
He further posed questions on the international community’s response to China, arguing that “a fundamental moral flaw” of the nation state is giving a free pass to repugnant crimes if they are in the national interest, noting similarities to the Holocaust in this respect.
- A Uyghur refugee’s harrowing testimony: I saw, heard things beyond imagination
- ‘I need to believe the Uyghurs can survive and not be erased’
Nawaz responded that “the silence around all of this meant something for me. If our consumption patterns rely on a genocide, then there comes a point of no return, making genocide tolerable.”
He cited the demand for PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic or cheap cotton imports which have heavily relied on China, attributing these patterns to a “merger of corporatism with a one-party state”, which he argued was not dissimilar to Mussolini’s fascism.
Earlier this month, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis issued a scathing attack on the Chinese state after feeling “compelled” to speak out after “reflecting upon the deep pain of Jewish persecution throughout the ages.”
Davis concluded the hour-long session with a rallying call: “It is the people, not the Government- shouting, being loud, demanding and demonstrating- that saves the future.”
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