Dozens of faith leaders call for action to stop 'genocide' of Uighurs in China

FILE PHOTO: Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018.(Reuters/Thomas Peter/File Photo)

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is among the dozens of faith leaders to have signed a letter demanding action to stop atrocities against Uighurs in China. 

The open letter, also signed by the Cardinals of Myanmar and Indonesia, the Coptic Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos, and five Church of England bishops, warns of "genocide" against the minority group in China. 

The faith leaders describe the human rights abuses being committed against the Uighurs as "one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust". 

At least a million Uighur and other Muslims in China are incarcerated in prison camps, the letter warns, where they face starvation, torture, murder, sexual violence, slave labour and forced organ extraction.

The "clear aim" of the Chinese authorities, the faith leaders write, "is to eradicate the Uighur identity." 

"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 Uighurs," the statement reads.

"After the Holocaust, the world said 'Never Again.' Today, we repeat those words 'Never Again', all over again. 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."

The statement follows a letter last month from the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, to the Chinese ambassador in London Liu Xiaoming, and a message from former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, comparing the atrocities to the Holocaust.