Boycott the People’s Republic unites Cornell organizations to protest the genocide of the Uyghur people
In an effort to raise awareness of the genocide of the Uyghur people, Cornell students formed the student organization Boycott the People’s Republic and held a rally outside Goldwin Smith Hall on Friday.
Organizers Jonathan Davydov ’21 and Cooper Stepke ’23 are calling for a boycott of Chinese goods to protest the forced labor inflicted on Uyghurs by the Chinese Communist Party. To gain support for their cause, they pledged to join the boycott and organized the rally, co-sponsored by Cornell MECA, the Arab Student Association, Pi Lambda Sigma, Phi Alpha Delta and the Society for the Promotion of East Asian. Liberty.
The organizers of the Boycott of the People’s Republic and their guest speakers gave speeches on why the Cornell community must act.
Kinen Kao ’22, an officer with the East Asian Freedom Society, and Basirat Owe ’21, co-chair of Black Students United, spoke with Davydov and Stepke. Owe began his speech with a two-minute silence to honor the suffering of the Uyghur people. She then encouraged the crowd to sing “Do you hear the people singing?” des Misérables, a defining song of the 2019 Hong Kong movement.
Owe encouraged protest participants to recognize their own agency and autonomy, and take seriously the power they have in educating others, speaking out and making ethical consumer choices, reinforcing the message of consumers. organizers of the Boycott of the People’s Republic.
The two organizers denounced the rise of anti-Asian violence in the United States – changing the name of their organization from “Boycott China Now” to “Boycott the People’s Republic Now” on May 6 after comments from community members AAPI.
“This is by no means an anti-Chinese movement, and we will not let our movement be associated with sinophobia,” Stepke said in an interview before the rally.
Davydov explained that his family consists of Jewish refugees from Bukhara from Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country in the same region where the Uyghur people are from.
He described Bukhara Jews and Uyghurs as belonging to “sister ethnicities,” a relationship he said informs his investment in this issue. However, Davydov and Stepke said their movement should matter to anyone, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.
According to Davydov, he and Stepke started the organization around this year’s Passover time, building on their interests in activism and their Jewish heritage. Davydov remembers seeing a photo of Holocaust survivors in a Seder book and relating their past struggle to that of the Uyghur people now.
“You don’t want to be complicit or complacent in spending your money on a good made with forced labor,” Davydov said.
According to Davydov, he and Stepke have also worked to build connections and raise awareness by speaking out at trade unions in the Ithaca region, religious centers and other community organizations.
“This movement is open to anyone with a conscience,” Stepke said. “That’s not what interests you. It is not your political history or your activism. It’s more about fighting genocide. “