Uighurs chanting “China stop lying” and “China stop genocide” have rallied in front of federal parliament calling for the government to save their children, cousins and parents.
“If they don’t listen now a whole community, the whole Uighur nation, is going to disappear,” Uighur leader Ramila Chanisheff told AAP on Monday.
“This is the 21st century. How does genocide occur in the 21st century?”
Ms Chanisheff, president of the Australian Uighur Tangritagh Women’s Association, who has cousins she hasn’t seen for 10 years, said she believed the Australian government would be “on the right side of history”.
“Everyone standing here and more across Australia have close family members and relatives and friends who have disappeared. They don’t know where they are.”
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has called out reports – disputed by China – of systematic torture and abuse of women in Xinjiang as “deeply disturbing”.
But Australia is yet to notch up the war of words to the “genocide” level.
Ms Chanisheff disputed figures of more than a million Uighurs locked up in Xinjiang as Chinese “propaganda”, saying satellite imagery and credible independent researchers show it is many more.
“There’s over 380 concentration camps in the region. Over 500,000 children have been taken away from parents into state-run orphanages to be raised as Chinese,” she said.
“But it’s not just the camps, the whole state is militarised. There’s no going in, there’s no going out. There’s checkpoints, there’s guns, there’s soldiers, and the Chinese government asks people to spy on each other.”
Ms Chanisheff told of a six-year-old girl who was punished for saying her brother’s name, because it was a Uighur word, and she must become Han Chinese.
Independent senator Rex Patrick, representing Adelaide’s Uighur community at the rally, said the Morrison government must stop “tiptoeing sideways”.
“It’s unacceptable conduct and we have to call it out,” Senator Patrick said.
“It is the mass repression of a group of people on a mass scale, an unprecedented scale.
“The Australian parliament needs to stand up and call out exactly what is going on. I want Australia to join in with other countries such as the United States, Canada, the Dutch, the UK, who are standing pretty strong.”
A new report by independent US think tank Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy found China’s actions in Xinjiang violate every provision of the United Nations Genocide Convention.
Ms Chanisheff is hoping to meet with Senator Payne later on Monday or Tuesday.