Nelson McCausland: Why republican silence on the human rights abuses by a brutal Chinese dictatorship?
They are not slow in their criticism of Israel but say nothing about communist reign of terror, writes Nelson McCausland
Seventy years, or as the Bible puts it, “three score years and ten”, is a lifetime, and that’s how long China has had a communist government. The Chinese communist revolution started just after the Second World War, and after a bloody civil war it ended with the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
Since then, under Mao Zedong and his successors, the communist government of China has committed some of the worst atrocities in the modern era and caused a lifetime of misery on a scale that is unimaginable.
Mao’s initial programme of ‘land reform’ was accompanied by the killing of at least one million people and he put down dissenting voices by executing 712,000 people and imprisoning 1.3 million in forced labour camps.
Chairman Mao launched his Great Leap Forward in 1958, but it ruined the economy and led to a Great Chinese Famine, which killed an estimated 45 million people in four years.
The Cultural Revolution began in 1966 and was spearheaded by the Red Guards. It only came to an end after the death of Chairman Mao in 1976, but during that decade it resulted in the deaths of an estimated two to three million people.
The brutality of the communist regime hit the headlines on June 4, 1989 when thousands of democratic activists, mostly students, were massacred by the guns and tanks of the People’s Liberation Army in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, meant nothing under a brutal dictatorship and many people will remember the iconic image of a single man standing defiantly in front of a column of tanks.
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Thirty years later China is still infamous for its human rights abuses. Last year it was reported that in Xinjiang, China’s western region, a million people are being held against their will in political re-education camps as the communist government sought to eradicate the identity of the Uighur and Kazakh peoples. Children have even been removed from their families and placed in government-run orphanages.
Neither is there religious freedom for Christians. Indeed, the Chinese government has intensified the repression of Christian congregations, burning Bibles and shutting down churches.
Children and young people under the age of 18 are banned from attending church services and anyone over the age of 18 is only permitted to join a government-approved church. The aim is to eliminate any obstacle to Communist Party control over the lives of the people.
As a result many Christians worship in secret clandestine or underground churches. However, such congregations are illegal and are targeted and persecuted by the State police.
Meanwhile, China is building an authoritarian high technology future with its internet censorship, digital control and a national surveillance system.
The communist regime in China has a shameful record of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity.
There are people who speak out about this situation, but they tend not to be from the Left. Instead left-wing activists and trade unions, as well as Irish republicans, are busy denouncing Israel and demanding boycotts, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS). But when it comes to China, there is barely a whisper.
In 2016 Derry City and Strabane District Council passed a motion backing the BDS campaign and dissident republican councillor Gary Donnelly announced that he would not be using his council issued printer because the company that produced it had contracts with Israel!
This year Lynn Boylan, then a Sinn Fein MEP, even called for RTE to boycott the Eurovision Song Context because it was taking place in Israel.
Yet we hear almost nothing from such quarters about the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in China. So why is there such a reluctance, indeed refusal, to face up to the reality of communist China?
The only explanation I can think of for this is that those from the Left are reluctant to acknowledge the outworking of this brand of communism. It might be seen as disloyal to the Left. Such is the political inconsistency of the left and such is the political inconsistency of Irish republicanism.