Uyghur Mother Tongue Rights in China – Perspectives, Challenges and Policy

WUC, 19 February 2014


Brussels — The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), in collaboration with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), PEN Uyghur Centre and French PEN, will convene a conference entitled ‘Uyghur Mother Tongue Rights in China – Perspectives, Challenges and Policy’ in Paris on 21 February 2014 to mark the 15th Anniversary of UNESCO’s International Mother Tongue Day. Two panels of experts will discuss international standards for minority language protection and raise awareness about assimilationist and discriminatory policies endangering the Uyghur language in East Turkestan. Opening remarks will be delivered by Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, President of the World Uyghur Congress, Mr. Marino Busdachin, General Secretary of UNPO and Mr. Sylvestre Clancier, International PEN Board Member.

Dr. Fernand de Varennes (University of Hong Kong) will open the first panel on international standards by outlining international human rights standards and how language rights are applied in China and elsewhere. Dr. Elżbieta Kuzborska (Expert on minority and language rights from Lithuania) will explore the connection between language rights and ethnic conflict, while Dr. Eduardo J Ruiz Vieytez (University of Deusto) will introduce the audience to the current situation of minority languages in Europe and the challenges they face.

The second panel focusing on Uyghur rights will begin with Dr. Erkin Emet (Ankara University), who will speak about the current situation of Uyghur language rights in China. His talk will be followed by Mr. Dolkun Isa (World Uyghur Congress) who will elaborate on the Uyghur language rights movement in East Turkestan. The panel will be concluded by Mr. Benjamin Ismail (Reporters Sans Frontiers) who will provide an analysis of Uyghur language rights from the perspective of press, media and information freedom.

The conference will be complemented with a protest march entitled ‘Let me speak my mother tongue’ to raise awareness about the deliberate tactics by the People’s Republic of China to marginalize and impoverish ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. The protest will also seek to bring attention to Uyghur scholars and human rights advocates, who have been falsely imprisoned, intimidated and repeatedly harassed, for recognizing that Chinese state policy is devastating the richness of the Uyghur language. The protest will begin at 14:00 from the Chinese Embassy in Paris and end at 18:00 outside of UNESCO at the following addresses:

Chinese Embassy

11 Avenue George V – 75008, Paris


7 Place de Fontenoy – 75007, Paris


The conference and the demonstration are open to the public. To register for this event, please contact the WUC (

For media enquiries, please contact WUC Executive Chairman Mr Dolkun Isa (

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