Uyghur leader in UK: China’s persecution evolving into ‘more genocidal policy’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Uyghur leader in UK: China’s persecution evolving into ‘more genocidal policy’

Rahima Mahmut tells an online Jewish News panel event with Maajid Nawaz, MP Nusrat Ghani and representatives from René Cassin and HMDT, of new techology being used for persecution.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

A horrifying description of the sophisticated use of technology, used by the Chinese to abuse and exploit its Uyghur minority, has been given by the UK-based spokesperson for the World Uyghur Congress, Rahima Mahmut.

Speaking at a specially convened panel called Chilling Echoes, co-hosted by the Jewish News and the René Cassin human rights group, Ms Mahmut, who left China 20 years ago, said that persecution of the Uyghur Muslims had evolved into a “more genocidal policy.”

From April 2017 onwards, she said, there had been mass arrests and police would arrive, place black hoods on Uyghurs, handcuff them and take them away. 

But she said it was almost impossible to get proper feedback as to what was happening currently, because of the close monitoring of Uyghur families. “We learned that anyone who receives a foreign call, whether on their landline or their mobile phone, police will arrive in five or 10 minutes. And voice recognition technology — the Chines have recorded the voice of all dissidents, so they have a very sophisticated hi-tech surveillance in place”. 

Joining her on the panel, chaired by Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer, were Mia Hasenson-Gross of René Cassin, writer and broadcaster Maajid Nawaz, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s Olivia Marks-Woldman, and the Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani.

Re-watch Chilling Echoes here: 

Maajid Nawaz recently went on a hunger strike in order to get the issue of the Uyghurs discussed in Parliament. His petition successfully reached more than the 100,000 signatures necessary to trigger a debate. Now, he said, he was urging people to demonstrate outside the big sports supply companies, such as Nike.

“Everyone knows, it is an open secret, that we are broadly dependent on enslaved labour. If we do not seize this moment to protest, we become complicit”. He said that the Uyghur were not just being abused, but being exploited. Nike and other companies are thought to source most of their sports shoes from Chinese forced labour camps, populated by captured Uyghur Muslims who have been separated from their children.

Mr Nawaz predicted: “If Nike cave in, all the companies will follow”, and called on people to “put your money somewhere else”. 

Rahima Mahmut

MP Nasrat Ghani, who has raised the abuse of the Uyghur repeatedly in Parliament, referred to the controversial appearance of the Chinese ambassador to Britain on the Andrew Marr show last week, in which he categorically denied what was happening to the Uyghurs, despite being shown video footage of blindfolded men being herded onto trains. In fact, the MP said, the ambassador’s very denials had “helped our argument”.

There were, she said, an estimated two million people in the camps, and around half a million children separated from their parents. Women — who were subjected to horrifying abuse such as rape and forced abortions — “are given a choice, to be sterilised or go to a camp”.  

Ms Ghani said she wanted the UK to set up its own tribunal — in alliance with other western nations — to monitor China’s human rights abuses. Mia Hasenson-Gross said that future relations between Britain and China should be measured by its treatment of the Uyghur, and urged: “Don’t be silent, be an ally”.

Olivia Marks-Woldman said that there were 10 classical stages of genocide, each building on the previous stage. The tenth stage, she said, was denial. All the panellists urged for more publicity and renewed awareness of what was happening to the Uyghurs, of the “dehumanisation and re-education away from their own culture”. Maajid Nawaz also warned that if people did not respond, protest and publicise, then “the unacceptable becomes routine, the new normal”.

The Jewish News panel on Uyghur persecution was chaired by editor Richard Ferrer (bottom right)
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

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.

Easy access

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.

read more: