Irish religious leaders seek action against China over persecution of Uighurs

Treatment of ethnic minority ‘one of most egregious human tragedies since Holocaust’

More than 50 Irish faith leaders have signed a statement condemning the persecution of the Uighurs and other Muslims in China.

Included among the signatories are: Church of Ireland Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin; five Catholic bishops, Alan McGuckian, Fintan Monaghan, Larry Duffy, Phonsie Cullinan and Leo O'Reilly; Rabbi Zalman Lent of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation; Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council; and Rev Myozan Kodo Kilroy of Zen Buddhism Ireland.

Other signatories include: Sr Stanislaus Kennedy; Mother Marie Fahy, abbess at St Mary's Abbey at Glencairn, Co Waterford; Dean of Waterford Maria Jansson; Sr Kathleen McGarvey, provincial leader at Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles; Rev Prof Anne Lodge, director of the Church of Ireland centre at Dublin City University; and Canon Elaine Murray, rector of Carrigaline Union of Parishes in Cork.

They said: “As religious leaders and leaders of belief-based communities in Ireland, we join with our counterparts in Britain and elsewhere in affirming human dignity for all by highlighting one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust: the potential genocide of the Uighurs and other Muslims in China.”


The group said they had “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.”

Prison camps

At least “one million Uighur and other Muslims in China are incarcerated in prison camps facing starvation, torture, murder, sexual violence, slave labour and forced organ extraction. Outside the camps, basic religious freedom is denied. Mosques are destroyed, children are separated from their families and acts as simple as owning a holy Koran, praying or fasting can result in arrest,” they said.

“The clear aim of the Chinese authorities is to eradicate the Uighur identity,” the group said, pointing out that “as faith leaders we are neither activists nor policymakers”.

They recalled how "after the Holocaust, the world said 'never again'. Today, we repeat those words 'never again', all over again. We stand with the Uighurs. We also stand with Tibetan Buddhists, Falun Gong practitioners and Christians throughout China who face the worst crackdown on freedom of religion or belief since the cultural revolution."

There was “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 religious leaders concluded.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times