Chinese authorities were accused of threatening the Uyghur community in Australia by stating they will detain their family members who live in China. DFAT has raised alerts around the intimidation of the Uyghur people by the Chinese government, who have asked Australians for their personal information. The detention camps for Uyghurs in China have quickly expanded over the past year. However, the Chinese still refer to them as ‘internment camps’. The treatment of the Uyghurs has become an alarming foreign affairs issue and the United Nations has evidence of one million Uyghurs being contained in Xinjiang concentration camps. This includes people stating that they have been tortured and injected with unidentified drugs. Still unsatisfied, the Chinese have decided to target international victims as well. Currently, there are about three thousand migrants belonging to the Uyghur community settled in South Australia, as well as communities in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Most of these people are in constant fear of being contacted by Chinese officials or fearful for their loved ones back in China.
The ABC has obtained evidence of the Chinese government interfering with Australian migrants through text messages. This includes them asking for individuals’ intimate information, including workplace addresses, passports, car licences and home addresses. Unfortunately, the Australian migrants obeyed the Chinese officials out of fear that their family in China would be detained. The Chinese are regarding all Uyghurs, even those not in China, as criminals. According to the ABC, one of the victims, referred to as ‘Dawud’ stated that he was treated as though the Chinese had authority over him, even whilst living in Australia. Dawud stated that the Chinese ordered him to return to China. To that Dawud stated: “I’m not your citizen, how can you ask such a thing?” However, the demands from the Chinese only increased and Dawud went as far as sending information from his Australian employer to prove his employment. He stated, “It’s like mafia, it’s no different from mafia.” Much of this is due to the heavy surveillance, strict rules and detainment that is threatening the Turkic-speaking Uyghur Muslims of China.
The disconnect between the ‘nation’ and the ‘state’ becomes clear with this situation. Especially when the values of the Chinese government do not match those of the minority Muslim population. The Chinese struggle with the concept of multiculturalism and accepting the Muslims as a part of their national identity. This has resulted in the Muslims being subject to torture, detainment and brainwashing into leaving their religion. All of which are gross violations of human rights and should not be overlooked by other states.
In China’s north-west, the autonomous region of Xinjiang has a population of 24 million and most of them are Uyghurs. Separatists in this Chinese region are looking to create ‘East Turkestan’. These changes were met with Chinese authorities forcing locals to give DNA samples alongside voice and eye scans. According to the ABC and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), in 2018, the camps expanded by over two million square metres. DFAT stated that people need to contact Australian law enforcement if they are contacted by the Chinese government.
Unfortunately, this dodgy behaviour is not doing any favours for the Chinese and is only creating a worse reputation for the communist state. Moving forward, Australia needs to be stricter with their rhetoric surrounding this abuse of its citizens. Following the recent Christchurch attacks in New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern provided a wonderful example of how to respond to the horrendous treatment of Muslims. This should be emulated throughout Australia, especially by Australian politicians who have citizens depending upon them.
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