Muslim protesters stage a rally to protest against alleged oppression on China's Uighur Muslim communities in front of the Central Sulawesi's legislative council building in Palu, Central Sulawesi on Dec. 13, 2019. (Antara Photo/Basri Marzuki)

Indonesia Is Not Silent On Uighur: Foreign Minister


DECEMBER 27, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia has been actively communicating with China on Uighur issues to raise concern about freedom of religion among the Muslim-majority ethnic group in China's westernmost Xinjiang province, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Friday.

The Indonesian government and moderate Islamic groups like Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah have been in the spotlights in the past weeks for their perceived silence over alleged persecution against the Uighur ethnic group. 

Retno said she met with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Dec. 16 and Chinese Ambassador for Indonesia Xiao Qian on Monday.

“We have been communicating continuously with the Chinese government to express and request information regarding the situation,” Retno said after attending a meeting at the Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs’ compound in Central Jakarta.

She said Indonesia is actively engaging diplomatic measures on the issue.

“We had a pretty long talk with the [Chinese] foreign minister, and we stressed about the importance of freedom of religion. So, it’s not true that we are not doing anything, check our social media record,” Retno said.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said earlier that Indonesia will not intervene in China’s inernal affairs.

“Soft diplomacy means we do not intervene. We summoned the ambassador, that’s soft diplomacy,” Mahfud said in Jakarta on Wednesday.

On Friday afternoon, thousands of Islamic protesters including members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) staged a ralli in front of the Chinese Embassy on Jalan Rasuna Said, Jakarta.

The protesters accused the Chinese government for prohibiting the Uighur Muslims from performing prayers. They also called for a boycott on Chinese products.

The Chinese government has repeatedly denied oppressing the Muslim minority in Xinjiang, saying that the media had exaggerated reports on the Uighur ethnic group. 

In a meeting with a group of Indonesian media chief editors in Urumqi, Xinjiang, last month, Deputy Governor Arken Tuniyazi alleged that foreigners had no accurate knowledge about situations in the province.

"The ones who know best the size of our shoes are us," Arken said. 

Arken said the Chinese government doesn’t ban its citizens from observing their religions and faiths, but stern measures were needed to counter terrorism and radicalism.