Lift the Ban on Fasting
Citizens International strongly protests the action taken by the Chinese Government to ban Uighur students and civil servants from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. It is shocking that students have been prevented from entering mosques as reported in the international media.
The reason given by the authorities that the ban is to “protect the wellbeing and preventing use of schools and government offices to promote religion” is preposterous. Hundreds of millions of Muslims have been fasting during Ramadan without any adverse effects to their “wellbeing”. How can individuals fasting voluntarily constitute promoting religion in schools and government offices?
It is incumbent upon Muslims to fast during Ramadan and therefore the ban on fasting constitutes a serious violation of basic human rights entrenched in the United Nations Charter, the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and international law. The ban will offend the feelings of over one billion Muslims who would regard it as a form of suppression of Islam and Muslims.
What came as a great shock to most admirers of China’s role in international affairs was your call for “better assimilating Uighurs into Chinese society, including moving more Uighurs from Xinjiang to other parts of China…” [New York Times, 30 May, 2014]. Your call, if implemented, would amount to ethnic cleansing of Uighurs like what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians. Surely, China would not want to join the ranks of this rogue nation. Deportation or forcible transfer of the Uighurs would constitute a crime against humanity over which the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction.
China, as a member of the UN Security Council, has a duty, both legal and moral, to uphold the Charter. Smaller nations and the oppressed masses look up to China, a victim of colonialism, to protect their rights and interests from being trampled upon by the hegemonic powers. Your suppression of the Uighurs will send the message that China is no different from the other imperialist powers when its perceived national interests are affected.
The violent resistance of some Uighurs is in response to the discrimination, and violation of their national, cultural and religious rights practiced by successive Chinese administrations. The solution lies in engaging them in a dialogue and addressing their grievances and not in ethnic cleansing them.
We, therefore, appeal to you to lift the ban on fasting imposed on Uighur students and civil servants and to find a peaceful solution to Uighur grievances.
S.M. Mohamed Idris