Senior Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders have recently condemned the persecution and genocide of the Uyghurs in China in a powerful open statement. (August 2020).
As religious leaders and leaders of belief-based communities, we come together to affirm human dignity for all by highlighting one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust: the potential genocide of the Uyghurs and other Muslims in China.
We have seen many persecutions and mass atrocities. These need our attention. But there is one that, if allowed to continue with impunity, calls into question most seriously the willingness of the international community to defend universal human rights for everyone – the plight of the Uyghurs.
At least one million Uyghur and other Muslims in China are incarcerated in prison camps facing starvation, torture, murder, sexual violence, slave labour and forced organ extraction.
Outside the camps, basic religious freedom is denied. Mosques are destroyed, children are separated from their families, and acts as simple as owning a Holy Quran, praying or fasting can result in arrest.
The world’s most intrusive surveillance state invades every aspect of life in Xinjiang.
Recent research reveals a campaign of forced sterilization and birth prevention targeting at least 80% of Uyghur women of childbearing age in the four Uyghur-populated prefectures – an action which, according to the 1948 Genocide Convention, could elevate this to the level of genocide.
The clear aim of the Chinese authorities is to eradicate the Uyghur identity. China’s state media has stated that the goal is to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins.” As the Washington Post put it, “It’s hard to read that as anything other than a declaration of genocidal intent.” High-level Chinese government documents speak of .
Parliamentarians, governments and jurists have a responsibility to investigate.
As faith leaders we are neither activists nor policy-makers. But we have a duty to call our communities to their responsibilities to look after their fellow human beings and act when they are in danger.
In the Holocaust some Christians rescued Jews. Some spoke out. To quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil … Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act”. After the Holocaust, the world said “Never Again.”
Today, we repeat those words “Never Again”, all over again. We stand with the Uyghurs. We also stand with Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and Christians throughout China who face the worst crackdown on freedom of religion or belief since the Cultural Revolution.
We urge people of faith and conscience everywhere to join us: in prayer, solidarity and action to end these mass atrocities. We make a simple call for justice, to investigate these crimes, hold those responsible to account and establish a path towards the restoration of human dignity.
Imam Daayiee Abdoul, Executive Director for Mecca institute, Washington DC, USA
Mufti Shareef Ahmad, Imam Al Madni Center, Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA
The Reverend Jonathan Aitken, London, UK
Sheikh Rashad Ali, Institute for Strategic Dialogue, UK
Imam Shamsi Ali, New York, USA
Sayed Yousif Al-Khoei OBE, Director of Centre of Academic Shia Studies, UK
Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic-Orthodox Archbishop of London, UK
Dr Khalid Anis, Islamic Society of Britain, UK
Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen, Manchester Reform Synagogue, UK
Imam Qari Asim, MBE, Chair, Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, UK
Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Interim Director of Liberal Judaism, UK
Qari Zeshan Balooch, Imam, Ghousia Mosque, Leeds, UK
Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski, Senior Rabbi, Golders Green Synagogue, UK
The Reverend Dr Andrew Bennett, Director and Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute, and former Canadian Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Canada
Rabbi Miriam Berger, Finchley Reform Synagogue, UK
Desmond Biddulph CBE, President of the Buddhist Society, UK
Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and President of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences, Myanmar
Imam Dr Mamadou Bocoum, Muslim Chaplain and Lecturer in Islamic Studies, UK
The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark, UK
Imam Irfan Chishti MBE, Chashtiah Educational Trust, Rochdale, UK
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK
The Bishop of Coventry, UK
Sheikh Imtiyaz Damiel, CEO, Abu Hanifah Foundation, UK
Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi, S&P Sephardi Community & Ecclesiastical Authority of The Board of Deputies of British Jews
The Reverend Dr Joel Edwards CBE, UK
Canon Dr Giles Fraser, Rector of St Mary Newington, UK
Sonam T Frasi, FCA, RAS, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Northern Europe, Poland and Baltic States, London, UK
Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, Senior Rabbi, New West End Synagogue, UK
Rabbi Paul Freedman, Senior Rabbi, Radlett Reform Synagogue, UK
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Chair of Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, UK
Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE, UK
Imam Dr Usama Hasan, London, UK
Sheikh Saeed Hashmi, Imam Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking, UK
Shaykh Sultan Niaz ul Hassan, Chairman, Bahu Trust, UK
The Rt Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, MBE QHC, Bishop of Dover, UK
Imam Sheikh Mohammad Ismail DL, Lead Imam, Birmingham Central Mosque, UK
Imam Dr Abdul Jabbar, Atlanta, USA
Rabbi Richard Jacobi, East London and Essex Liberal Synagogue, UK
Rabbi Dr Margaret Jacobi, UK
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, UK
Rabbi Dr Elliott Karstadt, Alyth North Western Reform Synagogue, UK
Imam Adam Kelwick, Muslim Chaplain, UK
The Reverend Cindy Kent MBE, UK
Fr Nicholas King, SJ, Assistant Catholic Chaplain, University of Oxford, UK
Bishop Declan Lang, Catholic Bishop of Clifton, UK
Rabbi Josh Levy, Principal Rabbi, Alyth North Western Reform Synagogue, UK
Al-Haj U Aye Lwin, Chief Convenor, Islamic Centre of Myanmar
Ustadh Dawood Masood, Al-Hira Mosque, Luton, UK
Rabbi David Mason, Muswell Hill United Synagogue and Executive Member of the Rabbinical Council of United Synagogue, UK
Rabbi Monique Mayer, Liberal Judaism, UK
The Reverend Dr Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention in USA
The Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, Bishop of Truro, Chair of UK FoRB Forum and former Chair of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians, UK
Rabbi Lea Mühlstein, Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue, UK
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Washington, DC, USA
The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-ali, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, UK
Rabbi Baroness (Julia) Neuberger, UK
Fr Uche Njoku, Parish Priest, St Joseph’s Church, New Malden, UK
Imam Yahya Pallavicini, President of COREIS Islamic Religious Community, Italy
The Rt Rev John Perry, former Bishop of Chelmsford, UK
Shaykh Umar Hayat Qadri, Chair, Suffah Foundation, UK
Mufti Abdul Rahman Qamar, Madni Masjid, LaGuardia, New York, USA
Fr Timothy Radcliffe, former Master of the Dominican Order, UK
Imam Nabel Rafi, Director of the International Centre for Tolerance UK
Dr Sheikh Ramzy, founder, Oxford Islamic Information Centre, UK
Imam Ghulam Rasool QTS, Trustee Bahu Trust UK network, UK
Imam Yusuf Rios, Three Puerto Rican Imams Project , Islamic Learning Foundation Chicago, USA
Fr Dominic Robinson, SJ, Parish Priest, Farm Street Church of the Immaculate Conception and Chair, Justice and Peace Commission, Diocese of Westminster, UK
Abdurahman Sayed, CEO, Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, London, UK
Imam Mustaqeem Shah, Abu Bakr Trust, Walsall, West Midlands, UK
Imam Zaid Shakir, California, USA
The Rt Revd Alan Smith, Bishop of St Alban’s, UK
Dr Muzammil Siddiqi: President Fiqh Council of North America and Religious Director, Islamic Society of Orange County, Garden Grove, California, USA
Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia
Canon Dr Andrew White, Ambassador of Jerusalem MERIT, UK
The Rt Hon and Rt Rev Lord Williams of Oystermouth, former Archbishop of Canterbury, UK
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi for Masorti Judaism, UK.
“We can’t keep living like this?” is the cry. (Chip Le Grand and Sumeyya Ilanbey, “‘We can’t keep living like this’: COVID-19 state of emergency opens political divide,” The Age, 23 August 2020.) That’s not a cry of much use as we defend ourselves from an implacable and deadly enemy. We must change many things and quickly. Maybe we can’t live indefinitely in lockdown as we are now, but we must drastically and permanently change to ways of living very different from before. That is not optional and the Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews, knows it. Change or die: pick one.
The spread of coronavirus depends on two factors: (1) how dense the population is and (2) how dense the population is.
A recent piece about Dame Jean Macnamara DBE (1899-1968) reminds me again of my great debt to her. She was the scientist and physician who, when I was about seven years old, figured out that I had had polio six years earlier.
Jean Macnamara distinguished herself at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1922 with degrees in both surgery and anatomy. She went on to become a resident medical officer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and was just 23 when she was appointed resident at the Royal Children’s Hospital in May 1923. It was a critical time as poliomyelitis was sweeping the globe. After leaving the hospital, in 1925, she entered private practice to focus on poliomyelitis patients.
Her research found that that immune serum needed to be used in polio treatment during the pre-paralytic stage. She published and defended her results in both Australian and British journals, though it was a treatment that was never widely administered.
However, it was her discovery in 1931, along with Australian virologist Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet, of more than one strain of the poliovirus that made her reputation. Their finding was one of the first steps toward the eventual discovery of the Salk vaccine.
Macnamara travelled to England and North America on a Rockefeller Fellowship from September 1931 to October 1933, meeting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, himself a victim of polio.
In addition to her keen interest in curing disease, Macnamara sought to alleviate the pain and suffering it left in its wake. She is credited with ordering the first artificial respirator (or ventilator) in Australia. She introduced novel approaches to rehabilitation and splinting damaged limbs, most developed in conversation with patients and her own splint-maker. Macnamara proved to be a tireless advocate for people with disabilities long before it was in vogue.
Canberra has had no known new cases of Covid-19 infection for three weeks. And for that we give thanks to God, to health workers, to the territory government, and to the good sense of the city’s people.
Now, if your home is in Canberra, please stay here; if do you leave, please do not come back. If your home is not in Canberra, we love you, but please stay the fuck away.
And if you break the rules without good cause, I wish upon you the punishment prescribed by James Agee for arms merchants:
"…may [their] loins thaw with a shrieking pain, and may there be slow nails in the skulls of each, and may lost winds of plague unspeakable alight like flies upon their flesh, here in this earth and by public arrangement, to the sweet entertainment of all men of goodwill: and in their death may the vengeance of God shock their flesh from their bones, and their bones off the air, and all that was of them be reduced to the quintessence of pain very eternal, from moment to moment more exquisite everlastingly, by a geometrical increase: unless by improbable miracle they repent themselves straightway and for good." — Permit me voyage (Yale, 1934).
Not kidding. Lives are at stake.