The economic interests of various countries prevent them from raising the issue of persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang with China which uses “anti-terrorism” to justify its authoritarian practices.
In February, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, declared on Chinese state television, “China has the right to carry out antiterrorism and de-extremisation work for its national security.” He was following the clumsy script that China has used repeatedly to cover up its violations of the human rights of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province.
The alibi is common to authoritarian states who create “states of exception” and “emergency resolutions” to bypass the rule of law, substituting its self-appointed notion of “right” to violate human rights doctrine conventions. In the case of the Uyghur, an entire people has been categorised as “terrorist,” and China has developed a massive and programmatic response to such “extremism” — concentration camps that extract labour at the same time as they suppress any thoughts, beliefs, cultural values, language, even food, that evinces Muslim identity.
Besides bin Salman, other leaders regarded as vigorous advocates for Muslims have also signed on to what might be called the “Uyghur Exception.” In 2017, Pakistan’s current prime minister, Imran Khan, while still in the political opposition party, condemned the “hypocrisy” of the international community in failing to protect the rights of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar; Khan also has criticised human rights violations against Muslim Kashmiris.