THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT’S HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST UYGHUR PEOPLE SUBSTANTIALLY DISCUSSED DURING THE 14TH SESSION OF THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IN GENEVA

For immediate release
June 24, 2010
Contact: World Uyghur Congress (
www.uyghurcongress.org)
+1 (347) 285-6546 (United States) or  0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 (Munich, Germany)

The 14th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) (May 31 –June 18, 2010) concluded on Friday, June 18th in Geneva, Switzerland.  The World Uyghur Congress (www.uyghurcongress.org), the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation (www.iuhrdf.org), and the Uyghur American Association (www.uyghuramerican.org) convey their deepest gratitude to the country and intergovernmental delegations, the United Nations mandate holders/Special Procedures, and the non-governmental organizations in consultative status to the UN that raised and discussed the Uyghurs’ plight at the HRC session.  

The European Union’s and the United States’ statements during the general debate on Item 4 of the HRC Agenda about human rights violations in East Turkestan

WUC, IUHRDF, and UAA sincerely thank the European Union for expressing concern over the human rights situation in East Turkestan in the aftermath of the July 2009 protest and ethnic unrest in Urumchi, in its oral and written statements for the general debate on Item 4 (“Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention”) .  Spain (the current holder of the EU presidency) orally delivered the EU’s Item 4 statement and said, “The EU reiterates its concern about the conditions under which the trials of those involved in the Xinjiang riots have been conducted, especial with regard to whether due process and other safeguards for a fair trial were respected.”

In the written version of the statement, the EU further proclaimed, “The EU calls on China to review urgently the cases of those who remain under sentence of death for their alleged involvement in this year’s unrest and for their sentences to be commuted.  The EU urges the Chinese Authorities to allow free access to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China to foreign journalists and diplomats and immediately restore complete communication capabilities in Xinjiang.”

The United States highlighted in its oral statement on Item 4 on June 8th the “onerous restrictions” on ethnic and religious minorities in East Turkestan and Tibet, “including restraint on religious practice.”  In the written version of its statement on Item 4, the United States gave the following further details of the repression of Uyghurs:

“Following violence in Xinjiang in July 2009, authorities imposed tight controls on Uighur Muslims to restore and maintain order.  International phone calls were suspended for six months and Internet access, which had been completely cut off, was only restored on May 14 of this year.  Finally, restrictions and controls on Internet use and content continue.”

In its oral statement on Item 4, China reacted to the statements made by the EU and the US.

Statements Made By NGOs in Consultative Status to the UN Regarding the Uyghurs

The Uyghur human rights movement also conveys its deepest appreciation to the following NGOs in consultative status to the UN.

During the clustered interactive dialogues with several Special Rapporteurs on June 4th, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) discussed restrictions on freedom of expression and the press, including electronic media, in East Turkestan and Tibet.

During the general debate on Item 4 on June 9th, Human Rights Watch, the Society for Threatened Peoples, and International Educational Development, Inc. all discussed the Uyghurs’ plight.  Among other things, Human Rights Watch highlighted the Chinese government’s failure to permit the High Commissioner for Human Rights or Special Rapporteurs to visit East Turkestan or Tibet, the failure of the authorities in East Turkestan and Tibet to account for hundreds of individuals arrested in the wake of unrest, and the fact that “such a highly politicized judicial system precludes any possibility of protesters being judged fairly.”   The Society for Threatened Peoples expressed grave concern over evidence of extrajudicial killings of Uyghur protesters by Chinese security forces on July 5, 2009, over the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances of Uyghurs including minors in the aftermath of the July 2009 events, over the arbitrary sentencing of Uyghurs to death after trials plagued with politicization and strangleholds on due process, and over arbitrary executions of Uyghurs.  International Educational Development, Inc. referred to its detailed written statement on the human rights violations being perpetrated against the Uyghurs and called on the Council to address the Uyghurs’ plight.

China exercised its right of reply with regard to the statements made by NGOs about Uyghurs and other China-related issues on Item 4.

During the general debate on Item 6 (“Universal Periodic Review”) on June 11th, Human Rights Watch (HRW) indicated, among other things, that the unrest in July 2009 in East Turkestan cast doubt on the Chinese government’s claims in its recent update to its 2009 Universal Periodic Review that the rights of ethnic minorities are protected.  HRW noted that in September 2009, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay identified “discrimination and the failure to protect minority rights” as “underlying causes” behind the protests in East Turkestan and Tibet.  HRW offered greater detail on the events of July 2009 and the aftermath in the written version of its statement on Item 6.

Amnesty International (AI) devoted its statement during the general debate on Item 8 (“Follow up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme for Action”) to the Uyghurs.  AI began by stating that the July 2009 protest in Urumchi was fueled by long-standing resentment and discrimination.  The AI representative was then interrupted by the Chinese delegation on a point of order.  The delegation claimed that it was not appropriate to mention country-specific situations on Item 8.  The President of the Human Rights Council allowed AI to continue and among other things, AI argued that the VDPA is implemented in real communities in real situations and that in order to speak seriously about the VDPA, it was necessary to speak about real persons in real communities.  AI ended by calling on the Council to address the human rights situation of the Uyghurs.  In the written version of its statement, AI discussed the numerous eyewitness accounts that it received of human rights violations committed during and in the aftermath of the July 2009 incidents, including but not limited to the unnecessary or excessive and even lethal use of force on protestors, widespread arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and unfair trials.  AI called on China to take a number of actions.

United Nations Watch also mentioned Chinese security forces’ firing on Uyghur protesters on July 5th in its statement on Item 8.

Freedom House discussed restrictions on Uyghurs’ freedom of expression in a press conference that the NGO held in Geneva during the HRC session.

Special Procedures’ mentions of the Uyghurs’ plight in their reports to the UN Human Rights Council

UAA, WUC, and IUHRDF further express their appreciation to Dr. Manfred Nowak (the UN Special Rapporteur on torture), Dr. Martin Scheinin (the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and terrorism), and the Working Groups on arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances as represented by Dr. Shaheen Sadar Ali and Dr. Jeremy Sarkin, respectively, for discussing in their Joint study on secret detention the enforced disappearances of Uyghurs in the aftermath of the July 2009 incidents.  In addition, the Uyghur human rights movement conveys its deep appreciation to Professor Philip Alston (the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions), Ms. Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva (the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers), and Mr. Frank La Rue (the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression) for investigating communications that they received regarding the abuse of Uyghurs’ human rights during and in the aftermath of the July 2009 incidents and recounting their investigations in their reports to the 14th session of the Human Rights Council.

Statements regarding general human rights issues in China made by country delegations

Furthermore, the Uyghur human rights movement thanks Germany for discussing the use of torture in China, particularly in detention facilities, and the Czech Republic for discussing the restrictions on freedom of expression in China, during their statements on the general debate on Item 4.

The 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council will take place in Geneva in September 2010.

Endnotes

See www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=100604 for link to archived video of Reporters Without Borders’ statement on June 4th during the clustered interactive dialogues with Special Rapporteurs.  Scroll down a little bit to “Reporters Without Borders International” under “Interactive Dialogue” under “Item 3”.

See www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=100608#pm1 for links to archived videos of the European Union’s, United States’, and China’s statements during the general debate on Item 4.  Scroll down about halfway down the page to “Spain (on behalf of the EU)”, “United States”, and “China” under “General Debate” under “Item 4”.

See http://portal.ohchr.org/portal/page/portal/HRCExtranet/14thSession/OralStatements/080610/Tab1/Tab/Item4-GD-Spain%20on%20behalf%20EU.pdf for the written version of the European Union’s statement on Item 4.

See http://portal.ohchr.org/portal/page/portal/HRCExtranet/14thSession/OralStatements/080610/Tab1/Tab/Item4-GD-United%20States.pdf for the written version of the United States’ statement on Item 4.

See www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=100609 for links to archived videos of the statements of Human Rights Watch, the Society for Threatened Peoples, and International Educational Development on the general debate on Item 4, as well as for China’s exercise of its right to reply.  Scroll down a little bit to “Human Rights Watch” and “Society for Threatened Peoples” under “National Human Rights Institutions and Non-governmental Organizations “ under “General Debate” under “Item 4”.  Scroll down about halfway down the page to “International Educational Development” under “General Debate (continued)” under “Item 4 (continued)”.

See www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=100611 for links to archived videos of Human Rights Watch’s statement on Item 6.  Scroll down to the very bottom of the page.  The link to HRW is the second to last link.

See http://portal.ohchr.org/portal/page/portal/HRCExtranet/14thSession/OralStatements/110610/Tab1/Tab2/Tab/Tab/Item6-GD-NGO-Human%20Rights%20Watch.pdf for the written version of Human Rights Watch’s statement on Item 6.

See http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/archive.asp?go=100615 for links to archived videos of Amnesty International’s and United Nations Watch’s statements on Item 8.  Scroll down to the middle of the page to “Amnesty International” and “United Nations Watch” under “National Human Rights Institutions and Non-governmental Organizations” under “General Debate” under “Item 8”.

See http://portal.ohchr.org/portal/page/portal/HRCExtranet/14thSession/OralStatements/150610/Tab1/Tab/Tab/Item8-GD-NGO-Amnesty%20Internatonal.pdf for the written version of Amnesty International’s statement on Item 8.

See www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.13.42_re-iss.pdf for the Special Procedures’ Joint study on secret detentions.  The enforced disappearances of Uyghurs is discussed on pages 90-91, paragraph 170.

See www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.23.Add.1_EFS_only.pdf for an Addendum to the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression’s report to the 14th session of the HRC.  The investigation of communications regarding Uyghurs is discussed on pages 56-57, 58, 68.

See http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.24.pdf for an Addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions to the 14th session of the HRC.  The investigation of communications regarding Uyghurs is discussed on pages 40-42, 45-55.

See http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.26.Add.1_AV.pdf for an Addendum to the report of the Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers to the 14th session of the HRC.  The investigation of communications regarding Uyghurs is discussed on pages 33-35.