For immediate release
More than fifty Irish faith leaders have signed a statement condemning the persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, China. The statement, which echoes one issued by the human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide in August 2020 , has been signed by representatives of faith communities from across the island of Ireland. This comes after British lawyers found that there was a ‘ very credible case’ that the Chinese government was committing genocide against the Uyghurs.
Reacting to the statement, Dr David O’Brien of the Ruhr University Bochum, who researches and writes on ethnic identity in Xinjiang, said: ‘ The Chinese government wants the world to turn away from the moral outrages it is committing in Xinjiang. It has consistently denied and covered up, but the evidence and the harrowing testimony continues to mount. The international community must protect those that have no voice, speak out, and call this what it is, before it is too late.’
Text of statement:
As religious leaders and leaders of belief-based communities in Ireland, we join with our counterparts in Britain and elsewhere in affirming human dignity for all by highlighting one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust: the potential genocide of the Uyghurs 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 Uyghurs.
At least one million Uyghur 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 Quran, praying or fasting can result in arrest.
The world’s most intrusive surveillance state invades every aspect of life in Xinjiang.
Research reveals a campaign of forced sterilization and birth prevention targeting at least 80% of Uyghur women of childbearing age in the four Uyghur-populated prefectures – an action which, 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 Uyghur identity. China’s state media has stated that the goal is to ‘break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections 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 policy-makers. 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’, all over again. We stand with the Uyghurs. 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.
Sheikh Ihab Ahmed, Cork Mosque Foundation;
Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, Chief Imam and Mufti, Islamic Centre of Ireland, and Chair of Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council;
Mudafar Al Tawash, member of Islamic Foundation Ireland;
Rev. Steve Brunn, Anglican Chaplain and Dean of Residence, Trinity College, Dublin;
Rev. Canon George Cliffe, Assistant Priest, Lismore Union of Parishes;
Rev. Brendan Coffey OSB, Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, Co. Limerick;
Adrian Cristea, Executive Officer, Dublin City Interfaith Forum;
Most Rev. Dr Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore;
Dublin City Interfaith Forum;
Very Rev. Paul Draper, Dean of Lismore and Rector of Lismore Union of Parishes;
Most Rev. Larry Duffy, Bishop of Clogher;
Executive Council of the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland;
Mother Marie Fahy OCSO, Abbess of St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn, Co. Waterford;
Rev. Stephen Farrell, Rector of Zion, Registrar of the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough
and Registrar of the Province of Dublin;
Rev. Canon Mark Gardner, Rector of St Catherine and St James with St Audoen, Dublin;
Rev. Richard Gibbons PP, Rector of Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo;
Rev. Canon Ruth Gill (retired);
Rev. Eugene Griffin, Rector of Dunboyne and Rathmolyon Group of Parishes;
Rev. Dr Julian Hamilton, Methodist Chaplain, Trinity College, Dublin;
Rev. Seán Hanily, Rector of Rathmichael, Dublin;
Ahmed Hasain, CEO, Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland;
Most Rev. Dr Michael Jackson, Lord Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Glendalough;
Very Rev. Maria Jansson, Dean of Waterford and Rector of Waterford Union of Parishes;
Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, Religious Sisters of Charity, Stanhope Street, Dublin;
Rev. Myozan Kodo Kilroy, Abbot and Teacher, Zen Buddhism Ireland;
Rabbi Zalman Lent, Dublin Hebrew Congregation;
Rev. Prof Anne Lodge, Director of the Church of Ireland Centre, DCU Institute of Education;
Rev. Mark Loughridge, Milford Reformed Presbyterian Church;
Bro Kevin Mascarenhas, Presentation Brothers, Cork;
Sr Kathleen McGarvey, Provincial Leader, Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles (OLA);
Most Rev. Alan McGuckian SJ, Bishop of Raphoe;
Rev. Canon Brian McKay O.Carm., Prior of Terenure College;
Rev. Alan McQuade, Minister of First Monaghan and Smithborough Presbyterian Churches;
Rev. Canon John McKegney (retired);
Rabbi Dr Charles Middleburgh, Rabbi Emeritus, Dublin Jewish Progressive Congregation;
Rev. Dr Ian Mills, Curate Assistant of Larne and Inver, Glynn and Raloo;
Most Rev. Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe;
Rev. Tony Murphy, Auxiliary Ministry, Diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross;
Rev. Canon Elaine Murray, Rector of Carrigaline Union of Parishes;
Imam Ibrahim Noonan, Missionary in Charge of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Ahmadiyya
Community of Ireland;
Rev. Conor O’Reilly, Curate Assistant of Wexford and Kilscoran Union of Parishes;
Most Rev. Dr Leo O’Reilly, Bishop (Emeritus) of Kilmore;
Rev. Mike O Sullivan, Minister, Unitarian Church, Prince’s Street, Cork;
Very Rev. Seán O’Sullivan PP, The Harbour Parishes, Cork;
Nick Park, Executive Director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland;
Charles Payne, Methodist Church, Ardfallen, Cork;
Rev. Andrew Robinson, Methodist Church, Ardfallen, Cork;
Rev. Trevor Sargent, Curate Assistant of Waterford Union of Parishes;
Rev. Peter Sexton SJ, Catholic Chaplain, Trinity College, Dublin;
Imam Anwar Shah, Imam of Al-Mustafa Islamic Educational and Cultural Centre Ireland;
David Smyth, Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland;
Rev. Billy Swan CC, St Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy;
Three Faiths Forum, Cork;
Steve Vaughan, Pastor of Christ City Church, Dublin;
Rev. Christopher West, Curate Assistant of Taney, Dublin