Response to China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson’s Unfounded Accusations
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Hong Lei, at a press conference on February 16, 2016, made a particularly hostile statement concerning the Taiwanese government’s refusal of entry for WUC Executive Committee Chairman, Dolkun Isa, for a human rights conference later this month. The spokesperson contends that Mr. Isa has been, “suspected of organizing and carrying out a series of explosions, murders, robberies and other severe criminal activities as well as violent terrorist activities”, among other things.
The statement is, however, certainly not surprising given the vitriol launched at human rights activists in the past. NGOs and other human rights groups continue to be vigorously targeted for raising legitimate concerns about harsh repression that has only intensified since President Xi Jinping took office back in 2013. The statement, like many others in the past, provided no information to support the serious claims and fell back on the same routine platitudes directed at those resistant to unjust state policies.
In the past few years, China has accused a number of other peaceful activists of engaging in serious, unlawful activities. Prominent Uyghur academic, Ilham Tohti, was jailed on separatism charges back in September 2014, all the while refusing to provide substantive evidence to support their claims. Chinese writer, human rights activist, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, Lui Xiabo, was indicted back in 2009 on dubious charges of “inciting subversion of state power”, further highlighting the lengths at which the state has been willing to go to attempt to silence dissent and to tarnish the image of peaceful activists.
Interestingly, the statement also came on the same day that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a statement, sought clarification from Chinese authorities about the recent arrests of lawyers, and the harassment and intimidation of critics and NGO workers. His concern echoed that of many other prominent human rights organizations that have criticized China’s increasingly harsh treatment of activists in China and even abroad of late.
Many of these lawyers and activists have worked for many years seeking truth and justice for the dispossessed. Likewise, Dolkun Isa has worked for much of his life to amplify the voices of those who have been disempowered, particularly the Uyghur community in East Turkestan. His peaceful approach to dissent continues to carry the real potential to mitigate suffering in that community and has been consistently counter to the myriad claims made to the contrary.