Washington: Activists and netizens have been outraged after Disney shot several portions of the action movie Mulan in parts of China where it is believed that authorities have placed countless people, mostly Uyghur Muslims, in concentration camps, subjecting them to human rights abuses. Campaign for Uyghurs Executive Director Rushan Abbas in a video message said she was horrified by the choice of Disney to shoot there ignoring the genocide of people by communist China.
China has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in connection with the camps and said it is fighting against terrorism and religious extremism.
Triggering more controversies and objections from the netizens, the final credits of the movie thanked a government security agency in Xinjiang province.
On Monday, social media users noticed that in the credits Disney thanked a number of government entities in Xinjiang, including the public security bureau in the city of Turpan and the “publicity department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee”, reports BBC.
The public security bureau in Turpan is tasked with running China’s “re-education” camps where Uighurs are held in detention, China expert Adrian Zenz told the BBC.
The “publicity department” named by Disney is responsible for producing state propaganda in the region, he adds.
Walt Disney Co. Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy said the company’s decision to shoot some scenes of ‘Mulan’ in a controversial region of China has ‘generated a lot of issues for us’, reports Bloomberg.
The executive, who spoke Thursday at a Bank of America conference, noted that “Mulan” was mostly shot in New Zealand but that 20 locations in China were used to showcase “some of the unique landscapes.”
Filming in Chinese locations was “an effort to accurately depict some of the unique landscape and geography of the country for this historical period piece,” McCarthy was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
“It has generated a lot of publicity,” she said. “Let’s leave it at that.”
Activists have criticized Disney over their decision to shoot the movie in the region.
Campaign for Uyghurs Executive Director Rushan Abbas said the issues raised by Disney’s choice to film in a land stained by China’s genocide has serious implications for the entire global community, and especially for the Muslim ummah worldwide.
“As a Uyghur Muslim, I am horrified that the destruction of my people is being overlooked because of Chinese blood money. Many individuals are already complicit in this genocide by using the products made by Uyghur slaves, and now by the ways that Disney gives tacit approval of the Chinese regime’s actions,” she said in a video statement.
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Campaign for Uyghurs Executive Director Rushan Abbas said the issues raised by Disney’s choice to film in a land stained by China’s genocide has serious implications for the entire global community, and especially for the Muslim ummah worldwide. "As a Uyghur Muslim, I am horrified that the destruction of my people is being overlooked because of Chinese blood money. Many individuals are already complicit in this genocide by using the products made by Uyghur slaves, and now by the ways that Disney gives tacit approval of the Chinese regime’s actions," she said in a video statement. #uyghur #china #xingjiang #mulan #mulandisney #uighur #uighurgenocide #disney @campaignforuyghurs #rushanabbas @rushanabbas
She said the film Mulan and the circumstances surrounding its release are extremely distressing to the millions of Uyghurs across the world.
“If we are truly committed to the values of humanity, and to justice, we must carefully evaluate our complicity. A story like Mulan, with its themes of courage and heroism, is completely undermined by the betrayal of integrity, and I call on Disney to make this right, and to the entire world to demand action,” she said.
She said: “I am especially calling on the Islamic countries and Muslim ummah not to overlook China’s crimes and the war they are deliberately waging on Islam by rewriting the Holy Quran, and by outlawing all normal practices of our faith. The current situation of the Uyghurs is incredibly dire.”
She said the Uyghurs are crying for help.
“While the international community treats this genocide as an intellectual issue to discuss, Uyghurs are dying. We are crying out for help before this evil overtakes the entire world. The calamity of the Uyghurs will befall the entire world if this genocide is not stopped,” she said.
Yaqiu Wang, a China researcher at Human Rights Watch, tweeted: “@Disney should disclose the details about when #Mulanwas filmed in Xinjiang, what assistances it received from authorities, what agreements it had made with them in order to do the filming, and what kind of human rights due diligence it conducted before making the decisions.”
.@Disney should disclose the details about when #Mulan was filmed in Xinjiang, what assistances it received from authorities, what agreements it had made with them in order to do the filming, and what kind of human rights due diligence it conducted before making the decisions. https://t.co/DT9hvcDQPq
— Yaqiu Wang 王亚秋 (@Yaqiu) September 7, 2020
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong also criticised Disney over its decision to shoot in Xinjiang.
It just keeps getting worse! Now, when you watch #Mulan, not only are you turning a blind eye to police brutality and racial injustice (due to what the lead actors stand for), you're also potentially complicit in the mass incarceration of Muslim Uyghurs. #BoycottMulan https://t.co/dAMgZ6PWTD
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) September 7, 2020
“It just keeps getting worse! Now, when you watch #Mulan, not only are you turning a blind eye to police brutality and racial injustice (due to what the lead actors stand for), you’re also potentially complicit in the mass incarceration of Muslim Uyghurs. #BoycottMulan,” he tweeted.
Mulan and Hong Kong protest controversy:
This is not the first time that the movie has landed itself in controversy, in the past the lead actress of the film had triggered a row by backing a crackdown on Hong Kong protesters.
Liu Yifei, the actress starring in Disney’s live-action “Mulan” remake, landed herself in a controversy after she supported the police whom the anti-government protesters in Hong Kong accused of using excessive force to quell the unrest.
“I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong,” she posted on Weibo, a Twitter-like Chinese social media platform, reported CNN.
A hashtag #BoycottMulan started trending on Twitter following her post.
Twitter users accused the actress of supporting police brutality and called out the fact that she’s an American citizen, reported CNN.
She made the remark at a time when Hong Kong was witnessing protests over a controversial extradition bill.
What is Mulan?
Mulan is a 2020 American action drama film produced by Walt Disney Pictures.
It is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1998 animated film of the same name, based on the Chinese folklore “The Ballad of Mulan”.
The film stars Yifei Liu in the title role, alongside Donnie Yen, Tzi Ma, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Ron Yuan, Gong Li, and Jet Li in supporting roles.
It is directed by Niki Caro, with screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin.
Mulan’s Hollywood premiere was held on March 9, 2020.
Originally scheduled to be a wide theatrical release, it was ultimately cancelled in the United States after being delayed multiple times due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Disney instead premiered the film on September 4, 2020, on Disney+ for a premium fee in countries where the service had launched.
It will have a traditional theatrical release in countries without Disney+, where theaters have re-opened.
Who are Uyghur Muslims?
Uyghur Muslims are a Turkic minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. It is now widely publicized that their human rights are crushed by China and they were sent to “re-education camps” by the communist regime in Beijing.
The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.
An American representative at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in 2018 that the committee had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in China have been held in “re-education camps” by the Chinese authorities.