James M. Dorsey
Yusuf, a 53-year old Uyghur Muslim seeking a safe haven from potential Chinese
persecution, landed this week in the United States, his new home.
Yusuf’s perilous search that took him from Pakistan to Qatar to Bosnia
Herzegovina where was refused entry and back to Qatar highlighted China’s
inability to enforce its depiction of the brutal clampdown on Turkic Muslims in
its troubled, north-western province of Xinjiang as a purely domestic matter.
case also spotlighted the risk of increased mass migration in a world in which
ethnic and religious minorities increasingly feel existentially threatened by
civilizationalist policies pursued by illiberal and authoritarian leaders as
well as supremacists, racists and far-right nationalist groups.
Qatar Airways and making Doha his first point of landing after leaving his
residence in Pakistan, Mr. Yusuf further underscored the fragility of Muslim
acquiescence in the Chinese clampdown and called into question application of
Qatar’s asylum law. With the adoption of the law, Qatar last year became the
first Arab state to legalize asylum.
Yusuf is fortunate to have ended his ordeal with his arrival in the United
States, his case accentuated the hypocrisy of the Trump administration that has
demonized migrants and refugees and “weaponised” US human rights policy.
plight serves the United States as it fights an escalating trade war with China
and has made the clampdown in Xinjiang one of the opportunistically selected
cases of human rights violations it is willing to emphasize.
put Qatar and the international community on the spot when he last weekend
posted online a mobile phone video pleading for help hours before he was slated
to be deported from Doha’s Hamad International Airport to Beijing.
generated thousands of retweets by Uyghur activists and won him assistance from
an American human rights lawyer and ultimately asylum in the US.
to China, Mr. Yusuf would have risked being incarcerated in a re-education camp
which has been an involuntary home for an estimated one million Uyghurs in
China as part of what amounts to the worst assault on a faith in recent
last month that the majority of the detainees in what it describes as
vocational training facilities had been released and “returned to society” but
independent observers say there is no evidence that the camps are being
decided to leave his home in Pakistan for safer pastures after Pakistan became
one of up to 50 countries that signed a letter in support of the clampdown.
that Pakistan, the largest beneficiary of Chinese Belt and Road-related
investment, could deport its Uyghur residents, Mr. Yusuf travelled on a Chinese
travel document rather than a passport that was valid only for travel to China.
China’s issuance of such documents is designed to force Uyghurs to return.
document provided cover for Qatar’s initial decision to return him to China
rather than potentially spark Chinese ire by granting him asylum. International
pressure persuaded Qatar to give Mr. Yusuf the opportunity to find a country
that would accept him.
clampdown in Xinjiang is but the sharp edge of a global trend fuelled by the
rise of leaders across the globe in countries ranging from the United States to
China, Russia, India, Hungary, Turkey and Myanmar who think in civilisational
terms, undermine minority rights, wittingly or unwittingly legitimize violence,
and risk persuading large population groups to migrate in search of safer
have gripped the United States with critics of President Donald J. Trump
charging, despite his explicit condemnation this week of white supremacism,
that his hardline attitude and language when it comes to migrants and refugees
has created an enabling environment.
against Muslims in India, home to the world’s second largest Muslim community,
has increased dramatically with 90 percent of religious hate crimes in the last
decade having occurred since Narendra Modi became prime minister.
750,000 Rohingya linger in Bangladeshi refugee camps after fleeing persecution
in Myanmar while Islamophobia has become part of US, European and Chinese
discourse and Jews in Europe fear a new wave of anti-Semitism.
efforts to counter migration that are likely to aggravate rather than alleviate
a crisis a step further by adopting a law that would slap fines of up to
US$1.12 million on those seeking to rescue migrants adrift at sea.
clampdown that bars most Uyghurs from travel and seeks to force those abroad to
return has so far spared the world yet another stream of people desperate to
find a secure and safe home. The risk of an eventual Uyghur exodus remains with
the fallout of the Chinese re-education effort yet to be seen.
could well prove to be not only the tip of the Uyghur iceberg but of a future
global crisis as a result of an international community that not only
increasingly has turned its back on those in need but also pursues exclusionary
rather than inclusionary policies.
Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang
Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, an
adjunct senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle
East Institute and co-director of the University of Wuerzburg’s Institute of
Source: MSN News