KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 ― Hundreds of individuals from various Muslim groups have gathered at Jalan Ampang today to protest against China’s alleged abuse of Uighur Muslims at the Xinjiang province in China.
Two separate protests — one led by the progressive Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) and the other by hardline pro-caliphate group Hizbut Tahrir Malaysia (HTM) — stood side by side on a slip road off Jalan Ampang to voice their anger at the so-called re-education and normalisation of their Muslim brothers and sisters in China.
Abim, who began its march from Masjid Ibnu Mas’ud on Jalan Damai, had managed to rally around 40 supporters but it was dwarfed by the supporters of HTM who began their march from the Tabung Haji Mosque and numbered in the hundreds.
However, both groups were only allowed to send a single representative each to the People’s Republic of China embassy and both were denied entry and their respective memorandums were rejected.
Abim, who held a joint protest with Global Peace Mission Malaysia, was represented by Abim president Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, while HTM was represented by its spokesman Abdul Hakim Othman.
Speaking to reporters, Abim secretary-general Mohammad Fazril Mohd Saleh said that this was the second time the Islamic youth movement had failed to submit its memorandum to the Chinese embassy — with the first being on July 5, 2019.
“We’ve sent in our fax and called them last Monday. The officer we spoke to said we can come as long as we don’t bring more than 100 demonstrators with us. But today is a repeat of our past demonstration where they ignored us,” said Mohammad Fazril.
When asked if the separate protest by the more fiery HTM group had anything to do with the embassy ignoring the Abim representatives once again, Mohammad Fazril said he is not sure if that could be the reason behind its refusal.
“I am not sure if [HTM’s presence] is the reason we are denied. We started from different locations and had separate routes. We started our march from the mosque in Jalan Damai while HTM began moving from the Tabung Haji.
“The police asked us to hold the rally together in the interest of peace and we agreed with their request,” said Mohammad Fazril.
However, he said that the embassy had behaved in a “cowardly manner” seeing that China is a global superpower with more than a billion citizens but is afraid to meet a few representatives from a small country to discuss the Uighur matter.
He claimed that their memorandum is a message of peace and not of conflict.
Abim and other organisations that it leads only wants an explanation from Chinese Ambassador Bai Tian on the country’s alleged treatment of the Uighur Muslims without any propaganda while voicing their concern and protest.
Abim president Muhammad Faisal said the group will not stop pressuring the Chinese government until it addresses the concerns affecting the Uyghurs.
“The first memorandum we only managed to convey it through the media because the embassy representatives refused to meet us.
“This time, we managed to deliver the memorandum only to the guardhouse. No one came to meet us,” said Muhammad.
Making reference to the embassy’s refusal to meet the human rights groups, Muhammad said it felt as though it has “something to hide”.
“Why won’t they meet us? We will not stop making these demands and hold peaceful rallies until they meet us and talk us.
“We urge all international human rights groups to also continue pressure the Chinese government to be transparent on their treatment towards the Uyghurs,” said Muhammad when met by reporters.
In the middle of next year, Abim plans to invite all Chinese ambassadors in South-east Asia to gather in Kuala Lumpur and explain their government’s actions against the Uighur.
HTM, on the other hand, took a more aggressive stance against China. Its spokesman Abdul Hakim Othman urged the Malaysian government to heed its demands, the memorandum of which was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday.
“Firstly, the Malaysian government must help the Muslims of China as much as possible, including providing them space here if they should wish to seek protection,” he told reporters following the demonstration.
Abdul Hakim said the government must also issue a “harsh” warning to Beijing to cease oppressing its Muslim citizens.
“Thirdly, due to China’s actions, the government must sever all diplomatic ties with them, suspend all trade, close down their embassy and expel their ambassador from the country.
“If China refuses to heed the earlier warning, then Malaysia must issue a final military warning to them, and prepare to declare ‘jihad’ upon them and rescue the oppressed,” he said, using the Arabic term for “holy struggle”.
The spokesman added that Malaysia must urge other Muslim countries around the world to follow suit.
Abdul Hakim also expressed scepticism that the government will do anything to jeopardise relations with China.
“Ultimately, what matters is that we at Hizbut Tahrir did something to highlight the plight and suffering of our Muslim brothers and sisters over there.
“This also highlights the fact that no government can resolve the problems of the Muslim ummah, but only the Caliphate can do so once it has been re-established,” he said.