An Orthodox man protesting China’s alleged detention of Uyghur Muslims has pledged to continue weekly protests until reported interment camps are liberated.
Andrew, who did not wish to reveal his full name, can be seen twice a week outside the Chinese embassy in Hampstead during rush hour bearing a placard saying “3 million Muslims in concentration camps.”
He began protesting outside the Chinese embassy in March after seeing satellite images of the alleged internment camps in Western China. “I do not see how I can stop,” he said.
“I don’t understand how anybody is not getting up from their seats and protesting. It’s women, men and children in concentration camps. It’s happened only happened once before in history,” Andrew said.
“As a Jew, knowing what happened to the Jews 80 years ago, the world did nothing for us. I don’t understand how I can sit still and do nothing.”
But Andrew also draws the distinction between extermination and concentration camps. “Camps in Western China are currently concentration camps and not yet extermination camps,” he said. “But given past history and human nature, […] genocide cannot be ruled out from starting at any time.”
Witnesses and human rights group estimate that two million Uyghurs and other Muslims have been detained in internment camps in the region of Xinjiang since 2017, according to a report in ABC, which published satellite images of the centres.
Detainees are held in so-called “re-education camps”, which the Chinese government say are an attempt to tackle terrorism and unrest in the region.
Andrew says the protests have elicited a mixed response, particularly from his family. “Some people think I’m wasting my time […] Some people have been very supporting.”
“A little under half of the drivers appear supportive, and wave or give a thumb’s up or smile or some other sign to demonstrate support,” he said. “And a few seem openly hostile.”
Weekly protests are held outside the cultural office of the Chinese embassy in London every Tuesday and Wednesday from 6pm to 7pm.