Hundreds of representatives of Tibetan, Uyghur communities and Hong Kongers based in the United States gathered outside the White House on Wednesday just before the first face-to-face meeting of senior US and China officials–under the Biden administration–in Alaska.
The protestors called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to mount pressure on his Chinese counterparts for the suppression of religious and other freedoms in China.
The meeting between Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts is being held in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18 and 19.
At the protest, former detainees, survivors and activists highlighted repression in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang.
Tursenay Ziawudun a survivor of the secretive Chinese camps where over a million Uighur Muslims have been detained recalled her personal ordeal at the protest and says she is telling her story, hoping to save others.
“First, they stripped off my clothing. Then they tore out my earrings, so my ears were bleeding. What came next was worse — nine months of gang rape, violent beatings and torture with cattle prods,” Ziawudun told reporters.
“I was very lucky because my husband saved me… People are suffering, being pushed into forced labour, sexual abuse, rape and I want the world to take notice of that and take action against China,” she said.
Another protestor highlighting Beijing’s network of re-education camps and program of forced labor by inmates was Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of Campaign for Uyghurs.
On September 11, 2018, the Chinese regime took away Rushan’s sister, Gulshan Abbas. On Christmas Day in 2020, more than 27 months later, the family finally heard the news that she was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a sham trial. Gulshan’s imprisonment is a direct retaliation to Rushan’s activism.
“Knowing President Biden was the first person to recognize the genocide in China, knowing Secretary Blinken is a hero in human rights, I’m sure he will raise harshly Chinas genocide actions. And also, personally, I would like him (Blinken) to raise my sister’s case with his counterparts. And also, my husband’s entire family,” Abbas said.
A group of young Tibetans also resonated with the plight of Uighur Muslims and protested against the long-standing Chinese oppression against their religion, erasure of cultural identity, as well as recent developments including a media blackout of the Himalayan region and policies that replace the Tibetan language with Chinese as the medium for education.
“There is no scenario there is no place in the world for a country that legitimizes violent crimes. There is no sidestepping and soft approach to this.” Pema Doma, campaigns director at students for Free Tibet said.
The protest concluded with the protestors holding a banner “Boycott Beijing 2022, The Genocide Games.” A unified call to mount pressure for the Biden administration to bow out of next year’s Olympics that will be held in China.
“China must be stripped off from holding something as prestigious as the Olympic Games,” Rushan said.
In the US, the previous Trump administration determined that China has committed genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang and said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) must be held accountable for its acts against humanity.