Thousands of people took to the streets in Indonesia and Malaysia on Friday, Dec. 27, to protest the repression of nearly 2 million ethnic Uighurs by the Chinese communist regime.
In Malaysia, some 700 members of various groups gathered outside the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
The demonstrations took place after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad promised not to extradite Uighurs seeking refuge in his country.
“If Uighurs are fleeing to Malaysia to seek asylum, Malaysia will not extradite them even if there is an application from China,” Mahathir said according to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Some 1,000 mostly Muslim protesters also gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta, in the largest demonstration to date in the Southeast Asian country against Beijing’s repression of Muslim minorities.
They waved banners saying, “China, stop genocide of ethnic Uighurs,” “Shame on you China for depriving Uighurs of their freedom,” and “Over one million Uighurs arbitrarily detained in China, Indonesia must speak out.”
Slamet Maarif led the big protest in the Indonesian capital.
“Under the pretext of fighting radicalism, Uighur Muslims are denied the freedom of worship, economic, social, and political rights as well as their culture and humanity,” Slamet said, according to RFA.
Slamet urged the Chinese regime to end human rights violations against the Uighurs and to open up access to independent international investigators.
Hundreds of protesters also gathered Friday outside China’s consulate-general in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city.
Smaller protests against China also took place in Jakarta and Banda Aceh last week.
The demonstrations came amid renewed attention to the issue in Indonesia after the Wall Street Journal reported on a “concerted campaign” by Beijing to convince Indonesian religious authorities and journalists that the camps in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region were a “well-meaning effort” to provide job training and combat extremism.
China began locking up some 1.8 million Uighurs and other minority Muslims in a vast network of internment camps in April 2017 over allegations that members of these groups harbored “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas.
While Chinese authorities say Xinjiang’s “internment camps” provide vocational training for the Muslim minority, international bodies have accused Beijing of trying to erase Uighur culture, language, and religious traditions.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of serious human rights violations by Chinese authorities, citing leaked classified documents that have revealed an unprecedented level of repression of Muslim and ethnic minority groups in western China.
“These reports are consistent with an overwhelming and growing body of evidence that the Chinese Communist Party is committing human rights violations and abuses against individuals in mass detention,” Pompeo said at a press conference, calling on Beijing to release all those arbitrarily detained.