By Reena Bhardwaj
Washington [US], March 18 (ANI): The first face-to-face meeting of senior US and China officials--under the Biden administration--in Alaska is being marked by vociferous protests by representatives of Tibetan, Uyghur communities and Hong Kongers based in the United States.
On Wednesday, people gathered outside the White House and called on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to mount pressure on his Chinese counterparts for the suppression of religious and other freedoms in China.
The meeting between Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts is being held in Anchorage, Alaska on March 18 and 19, will give each side time to lay out their priorities and cover a range of divisive issues.
Media reports suggest Beijing plans to press Washington to reverse many of the policies targeting China introduced during the Trump presidency in the high-level meeting.
At the protest former detainees, survivors and activists highlighted repression in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. Recalling her personal ordeal at the protest was Tursenay Ziawudun a survivor of the secretive Chinese camps where over a million Uighur Muslims have been detained. Ziawudun is now safe in America and says she is telling her story, hoping to save others.
"First, they stripped off my clothing. Then they tore out my earrings, so my ears were bleeding . What came next was worse -- nine months of gang rape, violent beatings and torture with cattle prods," Ziawudun told reporters.
"I was very lucky because my husband saved me... People are suffering, being pushed into forced laboUr, sexual abuse, rape and I want the world to take notice of that and take action against China," a teary-eyed Ziawudun told ANI.
Another protestor highlighting Beijing's sprawling network of re-education camps and program of forced labor by inmates was Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of Campaign for Uyghurs, an organization based in the United States.
On September 11, 2018, the Chinese regime took away Rushan's sister, Gulshan Abbas. On Christmas Day in 2020, more than 27 months later, the family finally heard the news that she was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a sham trial.
Gulshan's imprisonment is a direct retaliation to Rushan's activism. More than twenty four members of Rushan's family have been picked up by the Chinese authorities till now, a clear indication that that Rushan's activism on behalf of the Uighur people here in the United States is the root cause.
"Knowing President Biden was the first person to recognize the genocide in China, knowing Secretary Blinken is a hero in human rights, I'm sure he will raise harshly Chinas genocide actions. And also, personally, I would like him (Blinken) to raise my sister's case with his counterparts. And also, my husband's entire family," Abbas told ANI.
Standing in solidarity with Uyghurs was a group of young Tibetans resonating the plight of fellow Tibetans and the long-standing Chinese oppression against their religion, erasure of cultural identity, as well as recent developments including a media blackout of the Himalayan region and policies that replace the Tibetan language with Chinese as the medium for education.
"There is no scenario there is no place in the world for a country that legitimizes violent crimes. There is no sidestepping and soft approach to this." Pema Doma, campaigns director at students for Free Tibet told ANI.
The protest concluded with the protestors holding a banner "Boycott Beijing 2022, The Genocide Games." A unified call to mount pressure for the Biden administration to bow out of next year's Olympics that will be held in China. "China must be stripped off from holding something as prestigious as the Olympic Games," Rushan concluded.
Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang are each formally "autonomous regions" of the People's Republic of China that have experienced increasingly heavy-handed rule from Beijing during the eight-year tenure of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
In the US, the previous Trump administration determined that China has committed genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang and said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) must be held accountable for its acts against humanity.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Meanwhile, China imposed the draconian National Security Law in Hong Kong in July last year, which criminalises secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. Since its implementation, several pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested. (ANI)