By Manahil Hassan, October 14 2020—
Most children live in a sheltered bubble and many children grow up watching TV shows on screens filled to the brim with colour. I will not lie — this is the bubble I was surrounded by for many years.
I grew up, like many of my peers, adoring the characters from Disney movies. The Lion King, Mulan and The Little Mermaid were some of my favourite films. The funny thing with growing up, however, is that this utopia shrinks. The taller you grow, the more teeth that you lose, the more fragile this bubble becomes. You become exposed to the atrocities of the world and are left missing the ‘paradise’ you once lived in. This is what the Disney franchise has become to me.
Recently, the multi million-dollar company released the remake of their 1998 film, Mulan. Despite my decision to avoid watching this film, the New York Times took the liberty of filling us all in. Their ‘dedicated’ and ‘kind’ review referred to the movie as “lightly funny and a little sad, filled with ravishing landscapes.” The morbid truth behind this ‘funny’ Disney film, however, is the blatant disregard to the mass genocide currently occurring in China.
This child-friendly movie franchise filmed parts of their new film in Xinjiang and Turpan where members of the Muslim minority are being held in concentration camps. In the credits of their new film, Disney thanked four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments working in Xinjiang and the Public Security Bureau, for helping them make this film.
Not only did Disney film Mulan amidst a modern-day Holocaust, they also thanked the corporations responsible for doing this. How hungry and hypocritical does one have to be, to pretend that innocent human beings are not being murdered in front of their own eyes? And situations seem to worsen. Not only have some of the crew members visited the site of mass murder but the actress who plays Mulan, Liu Yufei, is an avid supporter of the totalitarian regime responsible for these crimes.
In the past three years, over a million Uyghur Muslims have been transported to the internment camps. In 2017, 15,000 Uyghurs were transported to these camps over the course of a week. For one week, humans were transported the way we transport mass resources.
A leaked nine-page memo referred to as ‘The China Cables’ was sent out in 2017 by Zhu Hailun. The memo included explicit instructions to the officers running the camps. No escapes were allowed — the camps were to be run as maximum-security prisons with punishments used to enforce strict discipline.
For three years, humans have gone missing. For three years, forced sterilizations have become the norm for these prisoners. For three years, the world has turned a blind eye to one of the worst human rights abuses of the 21st Century. What more will it take to give this issue the same attention we gave to the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral?
We tell others that we are passionate about human rights. We tell people that each life has value and innocent men, women and children should never be murdered. We all said “never again” yet here we are.
Boycott this movie. Boycott corporations such as Nike and Zara that exploit the Uyghurs for money. Begin advocating for human rights by signing petitions, by raising awareness and talking about this issue. One person can make a difference if they are committed enough.
You do not have to be a Muslim to think this is a gross abuse of human rights. You just need to be human.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.