Hundreds surround China's embassy in Indonesia over detention of Uighur Muslims

Demonstrators call for ambassador to be expelled over internment camps for Muslim minority group

Tom Barnes
Friday 21 December 2018 12:58
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Protesters surrounded the Chinese embassy in Jakarta demanding Beijing ends its mass detention of Uighur Muslims
Protesters surrounded the Chinese embassy in Jakarta demanding Beijing ends its mass detention of Uighur Muslims

Several hundred protesters demanded an end to the detention of Uighur Muslims during a demonstration outside China’s Indonesian embassy.

Demonstrators dressed in white robes gathered in Jakarta on Friday, waving banners emblazoned with “Muslims unite to free Uighurs”, while chanting “God is Great” and “Get out, communist”.

Protest organiser Slamet Ma’arif told the crowd, which included members of the Islamic Defenders Front vigilante group, their Muslim brothers were “suffering oppression, torture and cruelty by the Chinese communist government".

Mr Ma’arif, chairman of a conservative alliance that organised protests against Jakarta’s minority Christian and ethnic Chinese governor in 2016, called for Indonesia to expel the Chinese ambassador.

“Save the Uighur community and give them freedom to worship as Muslims,” he said.

“We also call on the Indonesian government to provide real action to help Uighurs like what has been done with Rohingya and we call on Muslims around the world to provide assistance and support for Uighurs.”

As many as one million ethnic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang regions are thought to be detained in camps, described by the Chinese government as “vocational skills education centres”.

However, those released from the camps have reported detainees are subjected to political indoctrination and put under pressure to renounce their religion.

Reports surfaced this week that some in the camps are forced to work in factories, although Beijing insists those living there work voluntarily.

Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi on Monday summoned China's ambassador Xiao Qian to explain alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, relayed the concerns of various groups in Indonesia and stressed that freedom of religion is enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to foreign ministry spokesman Aarmanatha Nasir.

Mr Xiao asserted China is committed to the protection of human rights and its willingness to provide information about the situation in Xinjiang, Mr Aarmanatha said.

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Despite those steps, the Indonesian government also says it has no right to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries.

It is reluctant to publicly criticise Beijing, fearing it could jeopardize potential Chinese investment or invite retaliatory Chinese support for separatists in Papua, a predominantly Christian region where a pro-independence insurgency has simmered for more than half a century.

Additional reporting by AP

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