Jakarta rally voices anger over Uighur ‘oppression’

Indonesian hardline Muslim group members take part in an anti-China rally in front of Chinese embassy in Jakarta, on December 27, 2019, to condemn China's government for rounding up an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in internment camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. (AFP)
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Updated 28 December 2019

Jakarta rally voices anger over Uighur ‘oppression’

  • Renewed protests condemn China's treatment of ethnic Muslim minority

JAKARTA: Hundreds of Indonesians protested outside the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta on Friday calling for an end to Beijing’s oppression of its ethnic Uighur minority.
The rally in support of the ethnic Muslim group began after Friday prayers and was the second held outside the embassy in a week.
On Thursday, more than 100 members of the youth group Laskar Merah Putih also protested against China’s treatment of the Uighurs.
Rally organizer Slamet Ma’arif said the protest voiced its “condemnation of China’s oppression against our Uighur Muslim brothers.”
“We demand the Chinese government stop forbidding Muslim Uighurs to exercise their religion,” Ma’arif said.
He called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to investigate China’s treatment of the Uighur and take its findings to the International Criminal Court.
“We condemn the Indonesian government’s idleness regarding the Uighurs’ problem and its failure to carry out our constitutional mandate which states that colonialism should be abolished in the world,” Ma’arif said.
Arini Soemardi, a teacher who attended the rally, told Arab News she wanted to express solidarity with oppressed fellow Muslims. 
“The Indonesian government has not said much about this. The government should strongly voice its opposition to the oppression in accordance with our constitution,” she said.
Indonesian leaders have been reluctant to comment on the Uighur issue, opting for talks “under the radar” instead of what officials describe as “megaphone diplomacy.”
Retired general Moeldoke, the presidential chief of staff, said earlier this week that Indonesia does not want to meddle in China’s domestic affairs.
Xiao Qian, China’s ambassador to Indonesia, told Moeldoko earlier this month that reports of China’s alleged mistreatment of its Muslim minority are false. 
In a report released in June, the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) said that China’s systematic repression of ethnic Uighur Muslims “has caused little angst in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.”
“The fact that China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner and second-largest investor adds to the reluctance among officials to voice criticism, but it is not the major factor in Indonesia’s muted response,” IPAC analyst Deka Anwar said.
The report said that Chinese diplomats have “gone the extra mile” to make sure that Indonesia’s two largest Islamic organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, remained silent.
China also arranged a junket in February for Muslim leaders and reporters to see the Uighurs’ living conditions in the “vocational training centers.” 
The report alleges that “NU delegates apparently took their host’s claims at face value” because an NU cleric said after their return that they did not see any concentration or internment camps during the trip.
Muhyiddin Junaidi, head of the Indonesian Council of Ulema’s international department, who led the invited delegation, told a forum on Dec. 20 that the group was strictly monitored throughout the visit to three cities.
“We were under heavy surveillance and could not go anywhere other than what was planned in the itinerary. We asked to go to the mosque for Friday prayers and were taken at the last minute. We saw there were no young people performing prayers, only old men, because the young ones were at work,” he said.
 


Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

Updated 12 July 2020

Over 200,000 vote in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy primaries

  • Exercise being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory

HONG KONG: Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers turned up over the weekend to vote in an unofficial two-day primary election held by the city’s pro-democracy camp as it gears up to field candidates for an upcoming legislative poll.
The exercise is being held two weeks after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the semi-autonomous territory in a move widely seen as chipping away at the “one country, two systems” framework under which Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997. It was passed in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.
Throngs of people lined up at polling booths in the summer heat to cast their vote despite a warning by Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister, Eric Tsang last week that the primaries could be in breach of the new national security law, because it outlaws interference and disruption of duties by the local government.
Organizers have dismissed the comments, saying they just want to hold the government accountable by gaining a majority in the legislature.
The legislation prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order Internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.
On Friday, police raided the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, a co-organizer of the primary elections. The computer system was suspected of being hacked, causing a data leak, police said in a statement, and an investigation is ongoing.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp, which includes multiple parties, is attempting to join forces and use the primaries as a guide to field the best candidates in the official legislative election in September. Its goal is to win a majority in the legislature, which is typically skewed toward the pro-Beijing camp.
To hold the primary elections, pro-democracy activists had raised money via crowd funding. They pledged to veto the government’s budget if they clinch a majority in the legislature. Under the Basic Law, under which Hong Kong is governed, city leader Carrie Lam must resign if an important bill such as the budget is vetoed twice.
On Saturday alone, nearly 230,000 people voted at polling booths set up across the city, exceeding organizers’ estimates of a 170,000 turnout over the weekend.