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Empowering Voices: A Malaysian Initiative On Uyghur Women’s Rights

Empowering Voices: A Malaysian Initiative On Uyghur Women’s Rights

In a significant gathering at the Raja Tun Uda Library in Shah Alam, NGOs and academics unite to spotlight the plight of Uyghur women in East Turkistan, advocating for their rights and independence.

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In a display of international solidarity, the International Union of East Turkistan Organizations (IUETO) took a significant step forward.

They organised an important event with support from a coalition of Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), Malaysia4Uyghur (M4U) and Helwa, the women’s wing of Abim.

The gathering focused on a presentation and panel discussion titled “Sisterhood Across Borders: Combating Women’s Rights in East Turkistan.”

This event, which took place at the Raja Tun Uda Library in Shah Alam, marked a significant moment in the ongoing efforts to bring global attention to the human rights situation in East Turkistan.

The Face of Defiance: Rapt in attention, IUETO president Hidayet Oguzhan (right) takes in testimonies of oppression from the frontlines of the Uyghur struggle. His furrowed brow and hardened gaze reveal the depths of a humanitarian crisis haunting his exiled community. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

The region in northwest China is commonly known as Xinjiang, a name that translates to “New Frontier” in Mandarin.

However, the Uyghur community and their supporters refer to it as East Turkistan.

Since China occupied East Turkestan, it has systematically oppressed and persecuted Muslims to the point of genocide. In recent years, China’s oppressive policies have been defined as crimes against humanity and genocide by the United Nations, the European Union Parliament and dozens of countries.

IUETO president Hidayet Oguzhan on China’s egregious violation of human dignity and Uyghur identity.

A Forum of Solidarity and Support in Malaysia

The forum was graced with the presence of distinguished speakers, including Prof. Datuk Noor Aziah Binti Mohd Awal, Commissioner of SUHAKAM (the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia), and Dr Ahmad El-Muhammady from the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC).

Freedom Fighters: Malaysia’s Uyghur advocates take the stage, rallying support for their embattled community under Chinese oppression. Leading the charge at the forum organized by IUETO, these impassioned leaders offer first-hand accounts of cultural erasure and injustices. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

Opening remarks were delivered by Datin Paduka Mastura Muhammad, Director of the Selangor Public Library Corporation (PPAS) and Hidayet Oguzhan, the president of IUETO.

This event aimed to shed light on the challenges faced by Uyghur women and foster a sense of sisterhood and solidarity across borders.

The initiative underscores the Malaysian NGOs’ commitment to supporting the Uyghur cause, reflecting a broader pattern of Malaysian support for Uyghur rights and independence.

Additionally, the forum saw the release of a report on the topic, further emphasizing the critical issues at hand and the collaborative effort to address them.

Rousing the Forces: With righteous vigor, IUETO Secretary-General Abdureşid Eminhaci (right) delivers his rallying cry to conclude the Uyghur forum. His emphatic gestures and fiery gaze rouse the passions of attendees, underscoring the urgency of their human rights struggle. (Pix: Fernando Fong)

Building Bridges for Uyghur Rights: IUETO’s Strategic Alliance with Malaysia

Based in Turkey, IUETO has been unwavering in its quest for justice and human rights for a community deeply impacted by policies attracting widespread international criticism.

These policies have significantly affected the Uyghur people’s cultural and religious identity.

At the core of IUETO’s advocacy is a vision for an independent East Turkistan, free from Chinese control.

In their efforts, IUETO has made numerous visits to Malaysia, seeking support on the basis that the Uyghurs, like the Malays, are Muslims.

A shared religious identity has been a cornerstone of their appeal for solidarity and assistance.

READ MORE: How Long Will It Take Until The OIC Speaks About Uyghur Human Rights

READ MORE: Malaysian Women Take The Lead In Uyghur Human Rights Issues

Furthermore, IUETO leaders have engaged with a range of Malaysian politicians, demonstrating the depth of their commitment to their cause.

Notably, these engagements have included meetings with Cabinet members, highlighting the importance of their mission and the potential for support at the highest levels of Malaysian politics.

Particularly, IUETO has established a close relationship with Abim, the NGO once led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before he joined UMNO, highlighting a special bond that aligns with shared values and historical leadership connections.

Walking a Tightrope

This relationship is especially noteworthy considering the Malaysian government’s cautious stance towards China internationally, often avoiding confrontation over sensitive issues.

Adding to this complexity is Malaysia’s decision to abstain from votes at the United Nations (UN) that would favour China, highlighting a delicate balance in its foreign policy.

This abstention reflects Malaysia’s strategic diplomacy, aiming to maintain good relations with China while navigating the intricate dynamics of international human rights advocacy.

This diplomatic tightrope walking was evident when Somalia, as the sole Muslim and African country, voted “yes” to hold a debate on the rights situation in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur region at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

In contrast, other Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia, Pakistan, Qatar, the UAE, Sudan, Mauritania, and Senegal voted “no,” with Malaysia and Libya choosing to abstain.

Today, when Israel is committing atrocities and persecution in Palestine and Gaza, the occupying China has been committing the same persecution in East Turkestan for 70 years. As the people of East Turkestan, we have been complaining for years about the world’s ignorance of the situation in East Turkestan.

IUETO president Hidayet Oguzhan on Muslim nations rightfully speak up against the oppression of Palestinians, but their deafening silence on the Uyghurs undermines any moral authority.

Despite these diplomatic nuances, IUETO’s efforts and connections within Malaysia demonstrate a resilient pursuit of support for their cause.

This scenario not only showcases Malaysia’s diplomatic maneuvering but also reflects the willingness of Malaysians to champion the plight of others, notably the Palestinians.

READ MORE: [Watch] Unity In Heat: Malaysians Rally In Mega Gathering For Palestine Amidst Diverse Support

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