A group of students covering their faces assembled last week holding large posters and standing still for over an hour, to raise awareness for the plight of Uighur Muslims in China.
The protest outside the Bill Bryson Library was organised by a collaboration between Amnesty International, One World Movement, Women’s Association and Durham Stands with Hong Kong.
A spokesperson told Palatinate: “Cultural genocide is happening, which no one in Durham is really talking about, for good reason, because we have investments in China, but we thought we needed to let people know and get the conversation going.”
According to research conducted by human rights charity Amnesty International, an estimated one million Muslim people are being held in Xinjiang, northwest China.
The demonstration was to raise awareness for the plight of Uighur Muslims in China
Whilst Amnesty describes detention camps for torture and brainwashing of suspects, the Chinese government has described them as “re-education centres”.
The forceful detention of Uighur Muslims was supported in China in 2017, when a law was passed which classed activities such as avoiding alcohol or praying as extremist.
“One World Movement is a UK Student Activist Network, which we’ve established in Durham this year. We self-funded these posters, because we tried to apply for social action funds but were rejected,” said one masked protester.
“People in Durham and at the University seem to be pretty satisfied with just going about their day and not paying attention to wider issues. But we have a responsibility as a University to reach out.
The protesters wear masks in Durham prevent being recognised
“A lot of the technology being used in these concentration camps is provided by tech companies in the UK and America, and researched by universities like ours.”
Durham University has partnerships with six universities in China and Hong Kong.
The protesters wear masks in Durham prevent being recognised, and to protect themselves and their families as Chinese citizens.
Image: Marina Mestres-Segarra