Original article: Teen Vogue
Author: Tenzin Chime, Irade Kashgary, and Joyce Ho
In this op-ed, three activists talk about the Chinese government’s actions in their respective home countries.
“Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance”: This quote has, ironically, been attributed to former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chair Mao Zedong. There is truth in those words, though, and the resistance of Tibetans, Uyghurs, and Hong Kongers against the oppressive regime of the CCP has been a testament to its veracity.
We are three young women with different cultures, struggles, and narratives. In many ways we are strangers to one another. Yet our identities as a Tibetan, a Uyghur, and a Hong Konger have united us to become one immovable force. On October 1, we will fight together, arm in arm, as part of the Global Day of Action protests against the crushing oppression of the CCP. We will join thousands of people in more than 50 cities worldwide who are taking a stand against the CCP’s despotism and colonialism on the founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The history and current state of Tibet, Occupied East Turkestan (currently known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), and Hong Kong, have compelled the three of us to take to the streets. The U.S. State Department has strongly condemned the CCP’s violation of human rights in all three of these locations.
In October 1950, the China’s People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet. Seventy years later, the CCP continues to abuse its power by suppressing the religion and culture of Tibetans. Items as harmless as the Tibetan flag and pictures of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, have been prohibited by the CCP. Failure to comply with these orders can lead to imprisonment and even torture, as Free Tibet has documented. Since 2009, more than 155 Tibetans inside Tibet have self-immolated in protest of China’s brutal occupation. Earlier this year, Tibet was ranked as the third least-free country or territory in the world by U.S. pro-democracy organization Freedom House, after Syria and before North Korea. The Wall Street Journal recently surfaced new data that showed in 2019 and 2020 alone China has put over 500,000 Tibetans in mass labor camps. Due to the lack of international accountability for the CCP’s human rights violations, monks, nuns, and teenagers alike have literally set themselves on fire as a cry for help and final act of resistance against a government whose egregious crimes have gone unchecked for far too long.
In Hong Kong, the situation is also dire.
In 1997, Hong Kong was handed over to China for 50 years under the Sino-British Joint Declaration which promised “One Country, Two Systems” governance. China has been chipping away at Hong Kong’s democracy ever since by attempting the “mainlandization” of Hong Kong’s citizens, promoting Mandarin, implementing high-tech surveillance to target dissenters, and censoring massive amounts of information. Despite attacks on their basic rights, Hong Kongers have developed a resilient culture of protest. This was demonstrated in the summer of 2019, when Hong Kongers, led by students and young people, protested against an extradition bill that proposed fugitive extradition to mainland China, which would allow the Chinese Communist Party to directly prosecute activists from Hong Kong. Although this bill was eventually scrapped, an expansive piece of legislation that was even more egregious than the extradition bill was passed less than a year later, on June 30. The National Security Law (NSL) effectively eliminated many of the basic freedoms Hong Kongers have historically enjoyed. Under the NSL, someone charged with “secession,” “subversion,” “terrorism,” or “collusion with foreign forces” can be imprisoned for life. Due to the broad nature of these charges, China can and has used the NSL to prosecute individuals it deems politically dangerous. Since the law passed, Hong Kong pro-democracy activist leaders like Agnes Chow and Joshua Wong have been arrested.
Hong Kongers have been stripped of basic human rights that should be granted to everyone. We must take action against the CCP to showcase the power of our opposition. And nowhere is this action needed more than in East Turkestan, where Uyghurs are on the brink of genocide.
Unexplained detainments, disappearances, forced labor, and mass digital surveillance worthy of a futuristic Orwellian novel are the daily reality for Uyghurs. Since the Communist Party took control and colonized East Turkestan (renaming it Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or in English, the New Frontier), Uyghurs have suffered racism, police brutality, and countless other severe human rights abuses. In 2016, the situation in East Turkestan escalated even further: mass incarceration of Uyghurs in so-called reeducation camps expanded. We have witnessed a widespread assault on Uyghur language and culture, an increase in unexplained disappearances, forced labor and forced relocation of Uyghurs from the region, organ harvesting, and even recorded cases of forced sterilization and other population control measures, causing a decline in in Uyghur birthrates.
While the CCP orchestrates what amounts to a genocide of the Uyghur people, diaspora Uyghurs face an existential crisis as they witness the extermination of their people from a distance. Even more disturbing is how the CCP continues to gain support from some in the international community. Regarding East Turkestan, Hong Kong, and Tibet, many countries are willing to turn a blind eye to or outright support the horrors the CCP is committing. Whether their support is due to optimism, sheer ignorance, or financial persuasion, the impact of this silence is felt by millions.
All who support human rights and the innate dignity of every human life must come together, put differences aside, and stand against the CCP. While the PRC celebrates its inception this October 1, we hope we can take the opportunity to show that there is no room for celebrating genocide, occupation, and oppression. On this Global Day of Action, we will rise in solidarity. We stand with all those who have been oppressed by the People’s Republic of China, who continue to live in fear of a totalitarian regime, and who will hopefully break free. To remain silent is no longer an option; to remain silent is to be complicit.
To find a Global Day of Action protest near you, please visit the Resist China website.