Faith leaders from around the world, including the cardinals of Myanmar and Indonesia, have called for urgent action on a “potential genocide” against the Uyghur people in China’s Xinjiang region.
In a letter released on Aug. 8, the religious leaders said the “repression” in Xinjiang has become “one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust.”
“We have seen many persecutions and mass atrocities. These need our attention,” read the letter signed by over 75 global religious leaders including Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Bo and Indonesia’s Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo.
They added, however, that the plight of the Uyghurs, “if allowed to continue with impunity, calls into question most seriously the willingness of the international community to defend universal human rights for everyone.”
China is reportedly holding over a million people, mostly Uyghurs, in internment camps in Xinjiang since 2017 and has subjected the region’s Muslim population to abuse and mistreatment.
Media reports have revealed the practice of forced labor, surveillance, and stringent restrictions on the practice of religious and cultural practices on the population in the region.
Human rights groups have described China’s action in the region as amounting to cultural genocide.
The religious leader’s letter called for an international investigation into Chinese policies in Xinjiang and for those responsible for “crimes” to be held to account.
The letter noted reports of forced sterilization of Uyghur women in an effort to suppress population growth, an action which the faith leaders said “could elevate this to the level of genocide.”
“The clear aim of the Chinese authorities is to eradicate the Uyghur identity,” the faith leaders said in their letter.
“We urge people of faith and conscience everywhere to join us: in prayer, solidarity and action to end these mass atrocities,” they said.
“We make a simple call for justice, to investigate these crimes, hold those responsible to account and establish a path towards the restoration of human dignity,” they added.
The letter also expressed solidarity with Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners, and Chinese Christians, who are facing “the worst crackdown on freedom of religion or belief since the Cultural Revolution.”