Press notes on demonstration in Munich, Germany

WUC, 06 July 2010

YYesterday a solemn vigil and a peaceful demonstration were held in the center of Munich in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the tragic events of 5 July 2009 in Urumqi, the capital of East Turkestan, when Chinese security forces brutally suppressed a peaceful protest by Uyghurs in Urumqi and killed an untold number of protestors.

The unrest began with a peaceful demonstration of Uyghurs in the city who were protesting against a lack of government action in regard to a deadly attack on Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province in the south of China. Only due to the violent intervention of the Chinese security forces the protests escalated. The riots on 5 July 2009 and in subsequent days, in which at least 197 people were killed, must be attributed to the continued denial of human rights for Uyghurs in East Turkestan. Since the protests in July 2009, Chinese authorities arrested thousands of people and a vast number of Uyghurs, including teenage boys, were forcibly disappeared. Eyewitnesses reported to media and international human rights organizations like Amnesty International that the Chinese security forces committed extrajudicial killings of demonstrators. In addition, persons who are accused of having participated in the protests were subjected to unfair trials. So far, 33 Uyghur have been sentenced to death and six of them have been already executed. Following these terrible events, Chinese authorities imposed the most violent and repressive information crackdown on Uyghurs in history. East Turkestan was cut off hermetically from the outside world about ten months.

In Munich the events were organized jointly by the World Uyghur Congress (WUC, www.uyghurcongress.org), which promotes the human rights of the Uyghur people on behalf of the Uyghur exile community worldwide, and the Society for Threatened People (STP, www.gfbv.org), a long standing supporter of the Uyghurs. Asgar Can, Vice President of the World Uyghur Congress, opened the demonstration with a speech in which he urged the Chinese government, the UN, the EU and the German government to take action to achieve an improvement on the human rights situation in East Turkestan. He also stressed repeatedly that for the World Uyghur Congress and its members the only way to solve the conflict in East Turkestan is through a dialogue and negotiation with the Chinese authorities and thereby reject strictly all kind of violence, believing that a satisfactory solution for both sides can only be found through a peaceful approach.

Around 700 Uyghurs as well as the German politicians Margarete Bause (Chairwoman of the Green Party in the Bavarian Parliament), Markus Rinderspacher (Chairman of the SPD in the Bavarian Parliament) and Claudia Stamm (Member of the Green Party of the Bavarian Parliament) joint the demonstration, claiming for an international and independent investigation of the tragic events and denouncing the unfair trials and death sentences. The participants demanded also the liberation of political prisoners, the end of torture through Chinese authorities and the forced resettlement of Uyghur women, as well as religious and cultural freedom of the Uyghur population in East Turkestan and the respect of human rights in China. Ms. Bause called for support of the Uyghurs´ plight through the German authorities, stressing especially the situation of the Uyghurs detained in Guantanamo. A representative of the STP expressed his worries on the defamation and persecution of Uyghur associations in exile through Chinese authorities and the pressure of Chinese authorities on foreign countries to ban Uyghur exile associations.

The vigil and the demonstration in Munich were part of a global action plan of the WUC and its supporters to ensure that the world does not forget about the devastating plight of the Uyghur people. Demonstrations were held in 14 countries, including but not limited to the United States, Japan, Turkey, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The actions around the globe on 5th July 2009 have to be understood also as a call on Chinese authorities to start a meaningful dialogue with the leaders of the Uyghur community on the situation in East Turkestan. The WUC as well its member associations and the president of the WUC, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, have repeatedly highlighted that governmental violence as a political tool is a dead-end-street in the relation between Han Chinese and Uyghur population in East Turkestan and that only through an honest dialogue peace can be reached in the region.