I rise tonight to speak regarding the enduring plight of the Uighur people of East Turkestan, sometimes referred to as Xinjiang, at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. The Uighur people are the original inhabitants of the Xinjiang region and have a rich history and culture that dates back thousands of years.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute recently launched the Xinjiang data project, which details the CCP's detention systems and cultural destruction in Xinjiang. The ASPI has identified 380 sites, including re-education camps, detention centres and prisons, many of which have been built or expanded since 2017. The ASPI also estimates that approximately 16,000 mosques across Xinjiang have been destroyed or damaged since 2017.
In July 2020, Foreign Policy magazine exposed the horrific realities that take place in these detention facilities, including allegations of abuse, torture, rape, murder, people being subjected to electrocution and injections of an unknown substance.
According to the ASPI, a new facility was opened in January 2020. It's surrounded by a 14-metre-high wall with a 10-metre-high watchtower at various points along the wall. It contains 13 residential buildings—each five storeys tall—totalling 100,000 square metres of space and capable of housing 10,000 people.
The plan runs deeper than simply targeting the current Uighur population. It involves the prevention of their future populations, and reports have now emerged of the CCP using birth control methods to reduce the fertility of the population, including sterilisation and forced insertion of intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy. This has had the effect of dropping the birth rates in the Xinjiang region by 24 per cent last year and 60 to 80 per cent decreases in population growth in highly populated Uighur areas. At a conference recently in Xinjiang, President Xi explained that it was necessary to educate Xinjiang's population on an understanding of the Chinese nation and guide 'all ethnic groups on establishing a correct perspective on the country, history and nationality'. He added that this is 'completely correct' and should be a long-term approach.
The Australian government has consistently called for China to end the arbitrary detention of Uighur people. These actions are completely at odds with Australian values. South Australia is home to a large Uighur community to whom these matters are extremely important, as they are to Australians more broadly. The South Australian Xinjiang association is a community based organisation in my home state. It's difficult to find much information in relation to the South Australian Xinjiang association and, unfortunately, it appears difficult to locate a street address, a registered office, an email address or even a phone number. It's with this in mind that I reviewed their Facebook page to see if they had made any statements regarding the treatment of Uighur people in the region which they represent. Despite their logo showing two hands shaking combined with what seems to be Mandarin symbols and Uighur-Arabic script, there appears to be no mention made of the matters I referred to earlier.
Last week in Adelaide's Advertiser newspaper, the South Australian Xinjiang association was quoted as saying:
Our association is not in any way linked to the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department … Our association's role is to provide community and social activities to support migrants and their families from Xinjiang as well as the broader Australian-Chinese community.
With that in mind, I have no doubt that an expression of condemnation by this organisation in relation to the treatment of Uighur people by the CCP would be much valued and of significant support to the local Uighur community. As a consequence of same, tonight I call upon the South Australian Xinjiang association to make a public statement condemning the treatment of the Uighur people of Xinjiang. When a point of contact can be established, I will be writing to that association in those terms. The Uighur people deserve this simple act of support.
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