Training the Leaders of Tomorrow

Providing Uyghur Leaders with the Means to Protect & Promote their Human Rights

7 – 10 May 2007

The Hague, the Netherlands

– Press Release –

Institutional reform is often central to plans to ensure the international community does more to protect and promote human rights across the world. True engagement with those in most need of international assistance requires however also attention to the obstacles that prevent grass-roots activists from accessing these institutions – obstacles as basic as a lack of information about these international bodies and the complex means in which they work and interact.

From 7 – 10 May 2007, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) will gather present and future leaders of the Uyghur community for a series of workshops and seminars in The Hague, the Netherlands, where participants will be introduced to the workings of international bodies through the officials and practitioners who know them best. More than 50 Uyghur leaders and political activists from around the world will attend the event.

The Uyghurs are the indigenous inhabitants of East Turkestan, a territory that has been under the control of the People’s Republic of China since 1949. Like other minorities in China, the Uyghur population are victims of ongoing repression, including culturally destructive assimilation policies and substantial restrictions on their basic freedoms, with conditions deteriorating still further since the onset of the “war on terror.”

Facilitated by funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), seminars will include a discussion of topics such as grass-roots democratisation campaigns, human rights advocacy, and nonviolent organisationand action. These will be supplemented by visits to some of the most central institutions in these fields, including the International Criminal Court, the International Court of Justice, and the European Parliament in Brussels. The focus of all speakers will fall on offering practical advice on how these bodies might most effectively be accessed and enlisted in the campaign for Uyghur human rights.

Participation will also include that of Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, President of WUC, Rafto Prize Laureate, and three-timeNobel Peace Prize nominee. As a former prisoner of conscience in China and a mother to children still held in Chinese jails, Ms. Kadeer knows first hand of the difficulties Uyghur communities face and the challenges of sustaining international attention even when breaches of the most fundamental human rights are commonplace.

These challenges are complex and demanding, requiring a sustained commitment to nonviolence and dialogue. This event, it is hoped, will ensure that the Uyghur leaders in a position to lead and guide this dialogue will have the capacity and tools needed to make effective use of those international institutions which exists support their campaign to protect the human rights of their people.

UNPO is an international membership organisation based in The Hague, with a long history in promoting and facilitating access to international institutions for its members, who are all characterised by their lack of representation on the international stage.

WUC is an international organization representing the collective interests of the Uyghur people, both in East Turkestan and abroad. Its purpose is to use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to promote democracy, human rights and religious freedom for the Uyghur people.

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For more information or queries please contact the UNPO Secretariat, Ms. Maria Skeie, by telephone: +31(0)70 3646504 or by email: marias@unpo.org