Several student groups on the McMaster University campus notified the Chinese consulate after they learned that a speaker who was critical of the government’s treatment of religious minorities was going to appear on campus.
The speaker, Rukiye Turdush, delivered a presentation on the mass internment of Muslims in China on the campus.
The Uighurs are an ethnic and religious minority in China who face prosecution for their religious beliefs. According to estimates nearly two million religious minorities have been detained by the Chinese government and forced into re-education camps. Chinese officials have resorted to torture and brainwashing techniques in an attempt to reform undesirable elements in their society.
Soon after the speaker was announced, Chinese students and affiliated groups spread the information on the Chinese messaging app WeChat to spark outrage among their peers.
The Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) notified the Chinese consulate in Toronto about the speaker’s appearance and criticism. Several students also appeared at the talk to film and shout down the speaker. According to WeChat records, the students were told to notify the consulate which academics were present at the event.
The CSSA has been a source of suspicion for Western intelligence agencies. The group has been tied to funding from the Chinese government in the United States and is speculated to be a source of espionage for the country, while also keeping tabs on international students and controlling their speech.