Bishop signs Christian Solidarity Worldwide letter supporting Uighurs
12th August 2020
This letter, to which Bishop Alan has added his name alongside other bishops and religious leaders, was published in the Guardian on Saturday 8th August.
“As religious leaders and leaders of belief-based communities, we come together to affirm human dignity for all by highlighting one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust: the potential genocide of the Uighurs and other Muslims in China. We have seen many persecutions and mass atrocities. These need our attention. But there is one that, if allowed to continue with impunity, calls into question most seriously the willingness of the international community to defend universal human rights for everyone – the plight of the Uighurs.
At least one million Uighur and other Muslims in China are incarcerated in prison camps facing starvation, torture, murder, sexual violence, slave labour and forced organ extraction. Outside the camps, basic religious freedom is denied. Mosques are destroyed, children are separated from their families, and acts as simple as owning a Holy Qur’an, praying or fasting can result in arrest. The world’s most intrusive surveillance state invades every aspect of life in Xinjiang. Recent research reveals a campaign of forced sterilisation and birth prevention targeting at least 80% of Uighur women of childbearing age in the four Uighur-populated prefectures – an action that, according to the 1948 Genocide Convention, could elevate this to the level of genocide.
The clear aim of the Chinese authorities is to eradicate the Uighur identity. China’s state media has stated that the goal is to “break their lineage, break their roots… and break their origins”. As the Washington Post put it, “It’s hard to read that as anything other than a declaration of genocidal intent.” High-level Chinese government documents speak of “absolutely no mercy”. Parliamentarians, governments and jurists have a responsibility to investigate.
As faith leaders, we are neither activists nor policymakers. But we have a duty to call our communities to their responsibilities to look after their fellow human beings and act when they are in danger.
In the Holocaust some Christians rescued Jews. Some spoke out. To quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil… Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” After the Holocaust, the world said “Never Again.”
Today, we repeat those words “Never Again”. We stand with the Uighurs. We also stand with Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and Christians throughout China who face the worst crackdown on freedom of religion or belief since the Cultural Revolution. We urge people of faith and conscience everywhere to join us: in prayer, solidarity and action to end these mass atrocities. 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.”
The Rt Hon and Rt Rev Lord Williams of Oystermouth, former archbishop of Canterbury; Imam Nabel Rafi, director of the International Centre for Tolerance UK; Rabbi Baroness (Julia) Neuberger; the Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, bishop of Truro, chair of UK FoRB Forum and former chair of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office independent review for the foreign secretary of FCO support for persecuted Christians; Christopher Cocksworth, bishop of Coventry; the Rt Rev Alan Smith, bishop of St Alban’s; the Rt Rev Christopher Chessun, bishop of Southwark; the Rt Rev John Perry, former Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford; the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-ali, former Anglican bishop of Rochester; the Rev Jonathan Aitken; the Rev Dr Joel Edwards; Canon Dr Giles Fraser, rector of St Mary Newington; the rev Cindy Kent; Canon Dr Andrew White, ambassador of Jerusalem MERIT; Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon and president of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences; Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, archbishop of Jakarta; Declan Lang, bishop of Clifton; Fr Timothy Radcliffe, former master of the Dominican Order; Fr Dominic Robinson, parish priest, Farm Street Church of the Immaculate Conception, and chair, Justice and Peace Commission, diocese of Westminster; Fr Nicholas King, assistant Catholic chaplain, University of Oxford; Fr Uche Njoku, parish priest, St Joseph’s Church, New Malden; the Rev Dr Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty commission of the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA; Al-Haj U Aye Lwin, chief convenor, Islamic Centre of Myanmar; Dr Sheikh Ramzy, founder, Oxford Islamic Information Centre; Imam Dr Mamadou Bocoum, Muslim chaplain and lecturer in Islamic Studies; Imam Daayiee Abdoul, executive director for Mecca institute, Washington DC; Imam Dr Usama Hasan; Desmond Biddulph, president of the Buddhist Society; Sonam T Frasi, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Poland and the Baltic States; Rabbi Charley Baginsky, interim director of Liberal Judaism; Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski, senior rabbi, Golders Green synagogue; Rabbi Miriam Berger, Finchley Reform synagogue; Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, senior rabbi, New West End synagogue; Rabbi Paul Freedman, senior rabbi, Radlett Reform synagogue; Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, chair of Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors; Rabbi Herschel Gluck; Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to Reform Judaism; Rabbi Josh Levy, principal rabbi, Alyth North Western Reform synagogue; Rabbi David Mason, Muswell Hill United synagogue and executive member of the Rabbinical Council of the United Synagogue; Rabbi Lea Mühlstein, Northwood and Pinner Liberal synagogue; Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, senior rabbi for Masorti Judaism; Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK