TAIPEI: The head of a US agency that monitors religious freedom around the world has warned that Taiwanese may face a similar fate like the persecuted Uyghurs in western China's Xinjiang region if Beijing invades the democratic island nation, media reports said.
"The Communist authorities have made it clear that Taiwan must understand what's happening to the Uyghur people," Nury Turkel, the chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, said during his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the two-day Regional Religious Freedom Forum in Taipei, RFA reported.
"You must know that if you fail to protect Taiwan, a similar fate awaits the Taiwanese people," Turkel said.
"Of course, there can be no doubt that there's no situation that illustrates the Chinese regime's intentions for Taiwan and for the world than the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity that are being carried out by the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]," Turkel added, RFA reported.
The event is being co-hosted by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. The attendees include members of the Taiwanese government and members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Taiwan.
It is believed that Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have arbitrarily held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in people in a vast network of "re-education" camps and in prisons.
China has claimed the facilities were "vocational training centres" meant to prevent religious extremism and radicalism and later said they had been closed, RFA reported.
There is also ample evidence that some detainees were subjected to forced labor, torture, sexual assault, and forced sterilizations and abortions, though Beijing has vehemently denied accusations of rights abuse. The U.S. government and several Western parliaments have declared that the actions amount to genocide or crimes against humanity.
"We have seen what the CCP is doing to the Uyghur people," said Turkel, who is a Uyghur-American attorney and human rights advocate based in Washington.
"We know what the Chinese regime is doing to the people of Hong Kong and what they are willing to do to their own people in Shanghai in the name of a political goal. And we can be certain that the Chinese leaders pursue the same for Taiwan. Taiwan must study the Uyghur genocide," Turkel said.
"You must learn from these horrors and atrocities carried out in broad daylight. You must not wait and see, hope for the best, or hope that you will be spared from the same fate," he added.
Turkel told RFA that he urged the Taiwanese government to join like-minded liberal democracies in the effort to enforce bans on goods made by Uyghurs under forced labour restrictions in China, RFA reported.