Nineteen of the UK’s most senior rabbis have joined dozens of community leaders of various faiths and none in calling for “justice” for China’s Uyghur Muslims.
Around one million Muslims are believed to have been detained in camps in Xinjiang, a region in the country’s northwest, according to human rights activists.
Rights groups have accused China of human abuses including forced labour and sterilisation.
But Chinese authorities deny any mistreatment of the Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups, saying the detention camps offer vocational training.
A letter highlighting the plight of the Uyghur has now gathered 76 signatures from faith and humanist leaders – including a London-based representative for the Dalai Lama.
Senior rabbis Joseph Dweck (S&P Sephardi community), Laura Janner Klausner (Reform) and Jonathan Wittenberg (Masorti) are among the letter signatories.
- Listen to the JN Podcast: Organ donation, Israel’s Covid battle and fighting online hate
Others include Muswell Hill United Synagogue rabbi David Mason, the crossbench peer Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger, Golders Green Synagogue’s Senior Rabbi Dr Harvey Belovski and Rabbi Herschel Gluck, who chairs Stamford Hill’s Shomrim volunteer safety group.
“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 Uyghur,” the statement says.
It continues: “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.”
In a statement to Jewish News, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy said the contents of the letter were “sheer rumour and smear. We strongly deplore and oppose it.”
“The so called genocide and forced sterilisation is nothing but a lie,” the spokesperson added, alongside a lengthy rejection of claims made about Xinjiang.
The Board of Deputies said in a statement that it welcomed the release of the letter.
The Jewish umbrella group urged China last month to “release the Uyghur people and other minorities from all ethnic and religious oppression”.
“Nobody could watch [Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming’s recent appearance on the Andrew Marr show] and fail to notice the similarities between what is alleged to be happening in the People’s Republic of China today and what happened in Nazi Germany 75 years ago,” said its president Marie van der Zyl.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.