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Chinese students at Cornell walk out of event after Uyghur student asks about genocide

About forty Chinese international students at Cornell University walked out of a speaking engagement with lawmakers when an Uyghur student asked during the question and answer portion why the US is not responding to the alleged genocide of Uyghur people in China.

Fulbright scholar Rizwangul NurMuhammad asked Democrat lawmaker Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) why the public outcry from the United States about the invasion and killing of Ukrainian people by Russia is louder than the outcry about the genocide of Uyghurs in the Xinxiang region, which has been ongoing for years.

Before NurMuhammad was finished asking her question, Chinese students in the audience began jeering and booing her, and then stood up and walked out.

“I feel for you and I’m sorry that you’re going through that and I’m sorry that the students just felt the need to leave,” Slotkin said to NurMuhammad, as the students filed out of the room.

An email was sent to the Cornell Institute of Public Affairs the next day, signed by about 88 students, claiming the walkout was due to the “extremely hostile” environment they were put in at the event. “At that moment, we were not sitting in a classroom; we were crucified in a courtroom for crimes that we did not commit,” they wrote.

The University sent an email to the Cornell community following the incident, saying it “spurred divisive discourse and engaged us in serious conversation related to how best to speak up in the face of genocide and human rights atrocities against the Uyghur people.” NurMuhammad says she still does not feel supported by the school.

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