Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was given a 21-gun salute and a gold-plated Heckler & Koch machine gun by Pakistani senators in Islamabad last week. After Jamal Khashoggi’s death, when Western business leaders boycotted an investment conference in Saudi Arabia, Imran Khan was one of the few leaders willing to have his picture taken with MBS. Soon after, Saudi Arabia gave Pakistan a $6bn support package, and this time MBS agreed $20bn of investment. The gun seems a timely gesture, given CNN’s recent report that the US have recordings of a 2017 conversation in which MBS told one of his top aides to get Khasshogi back to the Kingdom by force or ‘use a bullet.’ He must wish he’d had his Heckler then, but at least he still has friends. Within a week he was being warm to Chinese President Xi Jinping on matters of oppressing dissidents: “we respect and support China’s rights to take counter-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security.” He did not mention Xinjiang or Uighurs, he was too busy signing economic-cooperation agreements worth a total of $28bn. That prices the silence of Islam’s spiritual home on the fate of the 2 million Uighur Muslims now reportedly held in camps in Xinjiang at around $14 a head.
Western concern is growing since Eye and others told the story: last week US biotech company Thermo Fisher announced it will stop supplying DNA sequencing equipment to China, but it’s too late. The containment of Xinjiang is complete. China recognises no law but the State, and no human rights held against the State. Nobody is too famous or important to escape. Uyghur businessman and philanthropist, Abdughapar Abdurusul, has been sentenced to death for performing Hajj without permission. His assets, over $14m, have been seized, his associates and family arrested. His wife, Merhaba Hajim, reportedly died in detention. Adil Milit, a well known Uighur actor and comedian, disappeared on November 2nd. His son-in-law, who lives in Istanbul, says every Uighur in the world has heard of him. It’s not enough. The prime reason for detention seems to be religious expression. Former camp internees say that faith denial and pledging to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and tell other Uyghurs Islam is evil are part of the re-education. It must gall MDS to be hugging Xi Jinping whilst this is going on.
Fortunately, rewarding your critics with money doesn’t silence them all. Still, as Jeremy Hunt lobbied Germany to restart arms supplies to Saudi Arabia, MDS probably dared to hope that others will soon find it convenient to forget the rumours that he had Mr Khasshogi’s fingers cut off before he was killed. Germany, more secure of its immediate future, had the decency to refuse Hunt’s request, and Europe is powerful when it sticks together. But the world is dividing into those who are willing to stick together and insist on decency in return for trad, and those who are not. The doctor wonders which side Brexit Britain will be on.