Uyghur Exiles and Supporters Worldwide to Commemorate the Five-Year Anniversary of Urumqi Tragedy

Press Release – For immediate release
3 July 2014
Contact: World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or contact@uyghurcongress.org

On July 5, 2014, and in the days surrounding July 5, Uyghurs in exile and their supporters around the globe will stage demonstrations and other actions to commemorate the five-year anniversary of one of the most tragic days in the history of the Uyghur people and of East Turkestan. These demonstrations ensure the world is reminded of the continued plight of the Uyghur people. 

On July 5, 2009, a peaceful protest in Urumchi against government inaction over the deaths of Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan was violently suppressed by state security forces. The number of deaths of injuries has never been independently verified. The subsequent state response also saw the disappearance of hundreds of Uyghurs allegedly involved in the demonstrations, as well as a communications blackout in the region for ten months.

The World Uyghur Congress strictly calls for the use of peaceful means to achieve its objectives and calls on the Chinese state to cease its current policies regarding the use of force against peaceful protest. It also unreservedly condemns the use of violence for the purpose of expressing grievances. Such actions only serve to reinforce and perpetuate the cycle of violence and function as a justification for further repression by the state.

This day acts as a potent reminder as to the nature of the situation in East Turkestan in general. It also reveals that Uyghur-Han relations have only deteriorated since a large influx of Chinese settlers into the region over the past two decades. The state remains the catalyst for such poor relations and is ultimately responsible for the necessity of Uyghurs to peaceful express dissent. As such, because the state remains the foremost arbiter of the current situation in East Turkestan, it also has the capacity to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict and acknowledge the plight of the Uyghur people. Peace can only be reached through constructive and collaborative dialogue between the two parties.

The World Uyghur Congress also calls on the international community to stand together against such repressive policies and to pressure the Chinese government to ensure and uphold the freedom and inherent dignity of the Uyghur people living in East Turkestan. It must be stressed that such a peaceful resolution will be mutually beneficial for all parties, the international community included.

Background

On July 5, 2009, Uyghurs in the city of Urumqi, the regional capital of East Turkestan [also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China], participated in a peaceful protest [1] against government inaction on the killing of at least two, but possibly several dozen, Uyghur migrant workers, by Han Chinese workers at a toy factory in the city of Shaoguan, in the southern province of Guangdong [2].  The protest had been organized over the Internet as a peaceful demonstration. [3] The authorities blocked students on some university campuses from leaving school grounds on July 5th in order to prevent their participation in the demonstration. [4] Human Rights Watch noted that while the protest seemed to be sparked by the Shaoguan incident, the root causes for the protest lie in the longstanding discriminatory policies of the Chinese government towards the Uyghurs and the egregious repression of Uyghurs’ religious, political, educational, linguistic, and economic rights. [5]

Chinese security forces moved in and used extreme force and violence to disperse and suppress the protest. [6] Amnesty International has stated, “Eyewitness accounts received by Amnesty International contradict government accounts of the events of July, and suggest the authorities used excessive force against the protesters, resulting in the deaths of possibly hundreds of people.” [7]

Security forces used tear gas and stun batons on the demonstrators. [8] Witnesses interviewed by Amnesty International indicated that security forces also fired on the demonstrators, as well as beat and kicked them. [9] Uyghur organizations abroad and media outlets received similar witness accounts. [10] Witness accounts received by Uyghur organizations abroad also indicated that protesters fled to other points of the city, where they were forced into several enclosed areas from which they could not escape and the police indiscriminately shot and killed Uyghur protestors in these enclosed areas and arrested those who remained. [11] In sum, numerous witness accounts provided to Uyghur and other human rights organizations abroad, as well as witness accounts provided to the media, indicated that security forces committed extra-judicial killings of protestors.

The human rights violations that the Chinese authorities have perpetrated against the Uyghurs in the aftermath of the July 2009 incidents have included but have not been limited to:  mass and arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances of Uyghurs, including minors [12]; arbitrary sentencing of Uyghurs to death and other severe sentences after trials plagued with politicization and strangleholds on due process [13]; and arbitrary executions [14].

[1] Amnesty International (AI) (online), “China:  Further Information:  Nine Executed in China” (Urgent Action) (www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/063/2009/en), Nov. 11, 2009; Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 249 (citing sources).

[2] Uyghur American Association (UAA) (online), “UAA Expresses Concern over Shaoguan Indictments” (press release)

(www.uyghuramerican.org//articles/3743/1/UAA-expresses-concern-over-Shaoguan-indictments/index.html), Sept. 24, 2009 (citing sources); UAA (online), “UAA condemns killing of Uyghur Workers at Guangdong Factory” (press release)

(www.uyghuramerican.org//articles/3089/1/UAA-condemns-killing-of-Uyghur-workers-at-Guangdong-factory/index.html), June 29, 2009.  See generally, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State (online), “2009 Human Rights Report:  China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)” (www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135989.htm), Mar. 11, 2010; Amnesty International USA (online), “Amnesty International Urges the Supreme Court to Review the Sentencing of Five Uighurs to Death” (press release) (www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20091203002&lang=e), Dec. 3, 2009; Amnesty International (AI) (online), “China Must Halt Death Sentences Against Uighurs”

(http://amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/china-must-halt-death-sentences-against-uighurs-20091203), Dec. 3, 2009; Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 249 (citing sources); Human Rights Watch (HRW) (online), “China:  ‘We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them’:  Enforced Disappearances in the Wake of Xinjiang’s Protests”

(www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/10/22/we-are-afraid-even-look-them), Oct. 2009, p. 11 (citing sources).

[3] Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 249 (citing sources).

[4] Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Nur Bekri Calls for Heightened Political Consciousness at Colleges, Students Reported to be Locked Within Campus” (Commission Analysis) (www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=125931), posted on Aug. 6, 2009 (citing sources).

[5] Human Rights Watch (HRW) (online), “China:  ‘We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them’:  Enforced Disappearances in the Wake of Xinjiang’s Protests” (www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/xinjiang1009webwcover.pdf), Oct. 2009, pp. 9-11 (citing sources).

[6]  Amnesty International (AI) (online), “Stop Human Rights Violations Against Uighurs” (www.amnesty.org/en/campaigns/activists/issues/stop-human-rights-violations-against-uighurs-china), Feb. 5, 2010; AI (online), “China:  Prevent Executions for Uighur Unrest” (Urgent Action) (www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/061/2009/en), Nov. 2, 2009; Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 249 (citing sources).  See generally, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State (online), “2009 Human Rights Report:  China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)” (www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135989.htm), Mar. 11, 2010.

[7] Amnesty International (AI) (online), “China:  Prevent Executions for Uighur Unrest” (Urgent Action) (www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/061/2009/en), Nov. 2, 2009.

[8] See Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 249 (citing sources).

[9] Amnesty International (AI), “Urgent Action:  20 April 2010:  Further information on UA 336/09 (15 December 2009):  Risk of torture/incommunicado detention:  China:  Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz (m), aged 18” (Urgent Action) (www.amnestyusa.org/actioncenter/actions/uaa33609.pdf) (published on Amnesty International USA’s website), Apr. 20, 2010; AI (online), “Stop Human Rights Violations Against Uighurs”

(www.amnesty.org/en/campaigns/activists/issues/stop-human-rights-violations-against-uighurs-china), Feb. 5, 2010.

[10] Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 249 (citing Radio Free Asia reports); Statement by Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, Uyghur democracy leader at the National Press Club on July 20, 2009, “Unrest in East Turkestan:  What China Is Not Telling the Media”

(www.uyghuramerican.org//articles/3304/1/Unrest-in-East-Turkestan-What-China-is-Not-Telling-the-Media/index.html) (published on the Uyghur American Association’s website on July 20, 2009) (referring to witness accounts that Uyghurs in the region gave in phone calls to the Uyghur American Association and other Uyghur organizations); “Urumqi Tense, Quiet After Violence”

(www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/riots-07052009153209.html?searchterm=None), Radio Free Asia (RFA) (online), July 5, 2009 (updated July 6, 2009).

[11] Statement by Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, Uyghur democracy leader at the National Press Club on July 20, 2009, “Unrest in East Turkestan:  What China Is Not Telling the Media”

(www.uyghuramerican.org//articles/3304/1/Unrest-in-East-Turkestan-What-China-is-Not-Telling-the-Media/index.html) (published on the Uyghur American Association’s website on July 20, 2009) (referring to witness accounts that Uyghurs in the region gave in phone calls to the Uyghur American Association and other Uyghur organizations).

[12] Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 250 (citing sources) (regarding mass arrests); Human Rights Watch (HRW) (online), “China:  ‘We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them’:  Enforced Disappearances in the Wake of Xinjiang’s Protests”

(www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/10/22/we-are-afraid-even-look-them), Oct. 2009, pp. 21-32 (citing sources) (regarding mass arrests and enforced disappearances).

[13] Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) (online), “198 People in Xinjiang Reportedly Sentenced in Trials Marked by Lack of Transparency” (Commission Analysis) (www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=137197), posted on Apr. 21, 2010; Human Rights Watch (HRW) (online), “China:  Xinjiang Trials Deny Justice:  Proceedings Fail Minimum Fair Trial Standards” (www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/10/15/china-xinjiang-trials-deny-justice), Oct. 15, 2009; CECC (online), “Annual Report 2009” (www.cecc.gov/pages/annualRpt/annualRpt09/CECCannRpt2009.pdf), Oct. 10, 2009, p. 251 (citing sources); HRW (online), “China:  ‘We Are Afraid to Even Look for Them’:  Enforced Disappearances in the Wake of Xinjiang’s Protests” (www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/10/22/we-are-afraid-even-look-them), Oct. 2009, p. 19-20 (citing sources); CECC (online), “Detentions Continue, Official Pledges Death Penalty for Perpetrators” (Commission Analysis) (www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/index.phpd?showsingle=125931), posted on Aug. 6, 2009 (citing sources).

[14] Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, “2009 Human Rights Report:  China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)” (www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135989.htm), Mar. 11, 2010; Amnesty International (AI) (online), “China:  Further Information:  Nine Executed in China” (Urgent Action) (www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA17/063/2009/en/97062c40-0d64-4f75-a209-ed8de6a7a393/asa170632009en.html), Nov. 11, 2009.