China issues white paper on Xinjiang, home of the Uighur people

China issued a white paper on historical matters concerning Xinjiang, home of the Uyghur people. The white paper said “Xinjiang has long been an inseparable part of Chinese territory and has never been the so-called East Turkistan. The Uygur ethnic group came into being through a long process of migration and integration, it said, adding that the region is part of the Chinese nation.”

In the 2000 census, Han Chinese made up 40% of the population, as well as large numbers of troops stationed in the region. The Han Chinese are said to be given the best jobs and the majority do well economically, something that has fuelled resentment among Uyghurs.

The white paper said “different cultures and religions coexist in Xinjiang and ethnic cultures had been fostered and developed in the embrace of the Chinese civilisation. But the surge in religious extremism around the world has caused a rise in religious extremism in Xinjiang and has resulted in an increasing number of incidents of terror and violence.”

As a result, more than one million ethnic Uighurs are believed to be held in internment camps. The authorities call them “re-education through labour camps”, but victims say the reality is forced indoctrination for Uighurs held in alarming conditions.

The Chinese government, however, claims that the camps are merely vocational and training centers intended to combat extremism, and that they’re teaching detainees useful and valuable skills.

The Uighurs are subject to intense surveillance by the Chinese government. Cameras and police check points are everywhere. Uighurs have to install a mandatory app on their mobile phones that monitors all calls. The Chinese are tracking the movements of at least 2.5 million residents in Xinjiang.

The white paper indicates that China has every intention to continue the surveillance and indoctrination regime. One of the reasons why is that the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang is the northern bridgehead of the China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC). The CPEC is intended to promote connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects to address critical energy shortages needed to boost Pakistan’s economic growth.

Although Beijing is quick to downplay geostrategic motivations behind the CPEC, many commentators have noted that over the long run, an overland link across Pakistan to the Arabian Sea could help alleviate the “Malacca dilemma,” China’s vulnerability to the fact that roughly 85 percent [PDF] of its oil imports travel through the single chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca.

Now it all falls into place, doesn’t it? China needs to keep the oil flowing and if there is the potential that a couple of million Uighurs could disrupt the flow then they will be dealt with in China’s time-proven fashion. Just to be sure.

I wonder how the Pakistani Muslims reconcile their indifference to the mistreatment of their Muslim brothers and sisters in Xinjiang with the Surah An-Nahl 16:90 of the Quran: “Surely Allah enjoins justice, kindness and the doing of good to kith and kin, and forbids all that is shameful, evil and oppressive.”

Indonesian women suffering epidemic of domestic violence

The concept of marital rape is one that is unfamiliar to many Indonesians, with some conservative activists and politicians even arguing against a bill seeking to provide greater protections to victims of the crime on the basis that it was not compatible with traditional norms. Marital rape is not illegal under Indonesia’s Criminal Code but it is criminalized by the Domestic Violence Protection Act. However, marital rape carries a higher burden of proof and a lower maximum punishment than rape outside of marriage.

Marital rape is not being prosecuted enough, campaigners say. Data from the national commission on violence against women in 2018 showed the highest number of cases of violence against women occurred within households, with a rising trend of marital rape, in part, the commission believes, because more women are coming forward.

Indonesia contains the world’s largest Muslim population and in recent years the country’s Muslim majority has embraced more overt signs of religiosity and shifted toward Arab-style devotion. Most of all, a puritanical Salafist interpretation of Islam, which draws inspiration from the age of the Prophet Muhammad, is attracting followers in Indonesia. Wahhabism, imported from and fostered by Saudi Arabia, draws converts into government prayer halls. Wahhabism promotes pervasive gender discrimination and lack of equal rights that affect most aspects of women’s lives.

One wonders if there is a link between the increase in Wahhabism and the increase in domestic violence towards women. If so, Indonesia has a long way to go to fix this crisis.