February 14, 2023

PLOWE | What About the Genocide?

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The three UFO take-downs over this past weekend became sensational mysteries on top of the Chinese balloon discovery. Everyone is incredibly concerned about protecting American airspace. But if we find that the three mystery crafts actually came from outer space, surely, our planet Earth will be due for existential and moral awakening. 

What would Earth be to the rest of the universe? 

While much of the most horrific suffering on the planet is invisible to me and you, reader, suffering shows on the body of the planet. War is visible from above, and surely, the aliens would see the growth of Chinese labor camps from their little metal ships. I wrote last year on raising awareness of genocide in China, and I am frustrated at the lack of cultural interest in humanity’s ongoing acts of evil. It seems we are in technological wartime, yet we ignore the immense human toll of the same Chinese imperialism fueling the arms race. 

The center of Asia remains virtually invisible to most of the students here at Cornell. The invisible Asia is the land of Tibet and Xinjiang, currently the site for an ongoing genocide, where there is no religious, cultural, intellectual or bodily freedom. Islam is institutionally targeted as “terrorism” and Tibetan Buddhist institutions are under strict Chinese Communist Party (CCP) control. 

Recently, health workers in Xinjiang expressed that there were positive results as they treated COVID-19 patients with traditional Uyghur medicine, which dates as far back as 2,500 years. This is an irony, as the Chinese government imprisons Muslim Uyghurs for not conforming to Han culture. Uyghurs ought to have the right to practice their cultural traditions without fearing persecution and appropriation. 

We must rise to help our Central Asian family, and end their persecution. Over the previous weekend, the Cornell Interfaith Council traveled to support a rally for Uyghur human rights at Capitol Hill as UFO madness descended in Congress. My next column will feature their experience of standing for human rights and religious freedom. 

Our country does not seem to care about the forced assimilation and murder of Uyghur, Tibetan, Kazakh and other ethnic minority people. The news does not seem to care about the one million Tibetan children forcibly removed from their homes to be re-educated for Han assimilation. The genocide is replete with the horrors of new technology employed to torture innocent incarcerated people and thoroughly track the families of prisoners. Sterilization, forced abortion, and systematic rape are commonplace in these facilities.  

This is no isolated crime. Our country has long known about forced organ harvesting by the murder of prisoners, which has allowed for international organ transplant tourism. The trade is booming. But what pressure do we put on the CCP to end this evil trade?

Washington D.C. has barely sneezed in opposition to the genocide. Our culture does not have the courage to hold the CCP accountable. Disney+ just pulled an episode of the Simpsons which called out the existence of Chinese labor camps. A 2020 investigation found that “Unlike early sites, the new facilities appear more permanent and prisonlike, similar in construction to high-security prisons in other parts of China.” Shame on Disney for censoring a nod to this information; we must not be afraid to share the news of the genocide through any medium. 

Instead of obsessing over technological and surveillance advantage, we should pressure the U.N. to hold China accountable for their crimes against humanity. As Cornell students, we ought to be actively critical of the CCP, call out the University’s ties with the CCP and reflect on what we can do as future leaders, policy-makers and corporate media members. 

As H.H. The Dalai Lama writes in his book Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World, “In this age of globalization, the time has come for us to acknowledge that our lives are deeply interconnected and to recognize that our behavior has a global dimension.” Global injustices are local injustices — evil ripples.  

Emma Plowe is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]With Gratitude runs every other Tuesday this semester.