by Sheldon Stone
The UK government’s decision (28 January 2020) on future of Huawei, as a leading telecommunications provider in the country, undermines the UK’s long and celebrated tradition of defending human rights at home, and abroad. The tech giant’s world-class connectivity comes at the expense of the Uyghur people. Huawei has actively participated in the oppression and internment of over three million Uyghur Muslims, held in China’s notorious concentration camps in the Western province of Xinjiang; Huawei provides the digital infrastructure and surveillance systems used in the camps.
These concentration, labour and detention camps are part of the Chinese government’s brutal persecution of the Uyghurs. Confronted by disturbing scenes of row upon row of prisoners, behind barbed-wire fences, surrounded by guards, it is easy to draw parallels to previous atrocities in human history. The extent of the persecution was exposed in a recently leaked official document, which was described by Nury Turkel of the Uyghur Human Rights Project as looking “like a Nazi playbook” intended to wipe out China’s Uyghur population.
René Cassin is campaigning for the closure of the camps and advocating for the human rights of the Uyghur minority in China. As the Jewish voice for human rights, René Cassin seeks to honour the victims of Holocaust by advocating for the victims of genocide, today. ‘Never again’ is not just a statement, but a collective responsibility. As ‘never again’ continues to happen time and time again, the Jewish people have a unique ability to offer our solidarity and speak up, as the surviving generations of the Holocaust, for victims of genocides in the present.
Many centuries ago, Hillel, a renowned Jewish leader and scholar, authored the saying, “if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” These iconic and influential words continue to ring true to this day. René Cassin urges our fellow Jewish people, organisations, communities, and individuals to learn from our shared history and teachings and act in solidarity with the Uyghurs. We call upon our government to cease its partnership with Huawei, in the first of many actions that opposes China’s treatment of the Uyghurs.
For more you can read Sheldon’s recent blog for The Times of Israel