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US: Biden expresses solidarity with Uyghur, Rohingya Muslims in Ramadan message

The statement came on the first night of Ramadan amid tensions between the US and China
US President Joe Biden speaks during an Eid al-Fitr reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington DC, on 2 May 2022 (AFP)

President Joe Biden expressed his "solidarity" with Uyghur Muslims in China and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in a Ramadan message to American Muslims.

"Together with our partners, the United States stands in solidarity with Muslims who continue to face oppression- including Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China, Rohingya in Burma, and other Muslim communities facing persecution around the world," the statement said.

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The statement was released on 22 March, which marked the first night of Ramadan for many in the US and across the globe. 

"During this sacred time of reflection, the United States also reaffirms our support to Muslim communities suffering hardships and devastation," the statement said.

"We will continue to stand with the people of Turkiye and Syria-who have lost many loved ones during the recent devastating earthquakes-and with the people of Pakistan, who are rebuilding their lives following last summer’s floods."

"Today especially, we remember the universal human right to practice, pray, and preach our faiths peacefully and openly."

China’s persecution of the Uyghurs has been documented by human rights organisations and by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and has been widely condemned by western governments.

'Lie fabricated by the US'

Earlier this month, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, said the US had formally recognised that Muslims are increasingly subject to “discrimination and violence” and cited the treatment of the Uyghurs in China and the Rohingya in Myanmar.

She said: “We have also determined that the Chinese government has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.

“The international community must continue to condemn these atrocities. We must continue to demand accountability. And we must continue to call for all those unjustly detained in [China] to be released and reunited with their families.”

A spokesperson for China’s delegation then denied the accusations and said it was a "lie fabricated by the US".

“China resolutely rejects the baseless accusations made by the United States just now in abusing today’s high-level event of commemoration,” the spokesperson said.

He accused the US of committing genocide against Native Americans, as well as war crimes including “the indiscriminate killing of civilians including women and children” in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We call upon America to stop making lies for their political interests. The whole world has long been clear-eyed about the US political agenda of using Xinjiang to condemn China."

In 2021, the US State Department also declared that China is committing "ongoing" genocide against its Uyghur Muslim minority. 

In a statement at the time, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that since 2017, China had "dramatically escalated their decades-long campaign of repression" against Uyghur Muslims and members of other minority groups. 

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