By James Moules
NOTTINGHAM East MP Nadia Whittome called on activists to oppose nationalism and racism in both the United States and China in a speech of solidarity with the Uyghur people of Xinjiang.
Speaking at a Uyghur Solidarity Campaign UK protest on October 1, the Labour MP slammed the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of ethnic minorities and pro-democracy protestors.
Ms Whittome said: “We’re gathered here today on the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China to express our solidarity with all those suffering repression at the hands of the Chinese government.
“From freedom fighters in Hong Kong whose protests and demonstrations for democracy have resulted in the most horrific police brutality to the Tibetan people who have fought for years for the right to self determination to, of course, the Uyghur people who are experiencing forced slave labour in concentration camps and mass imprisonment.
“Today’s international day of action has been called to send them a message that the world has not forgotten their struggle.”
Oppression of the Uyghurs
The Uyghurs are a Muslim minority group in China who mostly live in the province of Xinjiang – the county’s westernmost region.
It has been reported over the past few years that as many as one million Uyghurs have been forcibly detained in camps since 2017.
However, the Chinese government has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and the Chinese Embassy in London was contacted for comment by Redaction Politics.
“For me as a socialist, condemning the Chinese Communist Party is not controversial,” Ms Whittome continued.
“When we see a police officer beating up a worker, Muslims being locked up in concentration camps and millions of people being denied their democratic rights and freedoms, the Labour movement needs to know which side we’re on.
“It’s not a People’s Republic if people have no power over their government, and is not socialist if millions of people are locked up in slave labour camps.”
Neither Washington Nor Beijing
The Uyghur Solidarity Campaign UK, along with the Labour Movement Solidarity with Hong Kong UK, put out an open letter condemning the Chinese government’s human rights record and calling on activists to protest under the banner “Against Beijing and Washington, for International Workers’ Solidarity.”
Ms Whittome echoed this sentiment in her speech.
She said: “Let’s be clear. Opposing tyranny and opposing genocide does not mean that we have to side with imperialism, and taking a side in the US Cold War that Trump is so keen to wage.
“While Trump and Xi Jinping might be enemies, they actually have far more in common than they’d probably like to admit.
“They’re both authoritarian nationalists who use the rhetoric of national security and counter extremism to oppose and repress ethnic, national and religious minorities.
“They use the language of the war on terror. Now that’s something that could have come straight out of the US Republican handbook.”
She concluded by calling on working class people across the world to unite against racism and authoritarianism – and reject racism and nationalism wherever it is found.
“Just as national authoritarians across the world – whether it’s in the UK, in China, in India and Brazil – have a lot in common, so do working class people across the world,” she said.
“It’s a favourite tactic of the far-right, of the rich and of the powerful to try to divide working class people, to tell us that our enemy is a fellow worker in another country – rather than the ruling elite in any of our own countries.
“And it’s people – not governments, not countries – that we should be standing in solidarity with.
“Whilst the newspaper headlines might be preoccupied with tensions between China and the US, I believe there is a more important global struggle here, and that’s between oppressors and the oppressed.
“And in this conflict, we need to take a side – the side of freedom, of democracy and human rights against nationalism, racism and imperialism, whatever flag it’s cloaked in.”
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