The Lithuanians are one of the world’s peoples who can both fully understand the pain of Uyghur People in China and feel it in their hearts. They witnessed both the Nazi and Soviet massacres and gained independence only by fighting great empires for nearly 100 years, giving them much in common with the Uyghurs, who have been fighting against Manchu and Chinese imperialism for 200 years and facing genocide more recently. In these darkest days in Uyghur history, I call with the highest hopes on Lithuania’s Parliament to extend humanitarian recognition to the Uyghurs.
By this time, the Uyghur genocide is no secret to the world. Satellite images show more than 380 camps containing more than 3 million Uyghurs. Leaked secret documents order the Uyghur genocide and executions. More than 50 camp survivors abroad have testified that the camps are death camps, not “vocational training centers,” as China says. After all this, only good conscience and courage are needed to acknowledge this genocide. To Lithuanians, it is clear that no murderous government in the world will admit its guilt voluntarily, so it is no surprise that China is doing its best to hide the genocide using false propaganda and false witnesses. China has relied on its economic power to coerce the Arab states, which are the Uyghur’s religious brothers and sisters, into turning their backs and the Turkish Republics, which are the Uyghur’s blood brothers and sister, into silence. Many African and Latin American nations are bound by debt to China, which also expects silence from Europe, the world’s standard bearer of truth and justice.
Despite this expectation, Lithuania’s Parliament will address the Uyghur situation on April 22. As an activist who has been introducing the genocide in East Turkestan to the world for 15 years and a former inmate in China’s prisons for 6 years, I want to testify that 39 of the more than 3 million Uighurs imprisoned in the camps are members of my family, including my brothers, sisters, children, and grandchildren still detained; my sister Arzigul Qadeer, who died in a camp; and my sister Helchem Qadeer, brother Mehmet Qadeer, and son, Qahar Abdurehim, who were released only after serious illnesses. Credible reports say that camp detainees are on the verge of death due to starvation, sleep deprivation, and mental and physical torture. To stop me from publicizing this genocide to the world, China has publicly threatened my brother Mehmet Qadeer and granddaughter Aydidar Qahar, an act that evinces its weakness and savagery.
We know that China has a huge population and does not practice the rule of law, so standing against it can cause a country problems, but our expectations of Lithuania are realistic. It can recognize the Uyghur situation as genocide and call on China to stop its crimes against humanity, which is necessary not only for the Uyghurs’ safety and security, but also to protect the values that Lithuanians cherish as they do their lives.
Whatever the outcome of the discussions in Lithuania’s Parliament, I want to express my deep respect for the country’s fathers and heroes—including the founder of the independent Lithuanian state, Antanas Smetona—for ensuring the platform for discussing the Uyghur situation and me the opportunity to present my testimony.
Rabiye Qadeer, leader of the Uyghur National Movement