World Uyghur Congress Briefs European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights

World Uyghur Congress, 24 March 2017

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World Uyghur Congress General Secretary Dolkun Isa briefed the DROI (Subcommittee on Human Rights) at European Parliament during a meeting (Exchange of views on the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China) on Wednesday, March 22nd in Brussels, Belgium.

Isa spoke of the human rights situation in East Turkestan and raised substantive concerns about the impact of China’s Anti-Terror Law and the subsequent securitization of the region as well as religious freedom and the demolition of mosques.

MEP László Tőkés raised the issue of sending an observer mission to East Turkestan to investigate credible claims of human rights abuses.

The event also included testamony from Sophie Richardson of #HumanRightsWatch as well Professor Marie Holzman from Solidarité Chine and Dr. Joanne Smith Finley.

A copy of Mr. Isa’s statement can be found below:

Good Morning,

It is my honor to be here and to speak today.

At present, the fundamental human rights and the freedoms of the Uyghurs including civil, political, economic, religious, social and cultural rights continue to be violated.

The Uyghurs face arbitrary detention and imprisonment, religious repression, economic and educational discrimination, and the steady eradication of Uyghur language and culture from public life, and the forced sterilization on Uyghur women. Today Uyghurs are faced with the danger of becoming a small minority in their own land and thereby losing their cultural identity.

After Terrorist attack on Sep.11, 2001 the Chinese government claimed that the Uyghurs who are involved in East Turkestan movement are terrorists.

According to a report released by Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China, “the world-wide campaign against terrorism has given Beijing the perfect excuse to crack down harder than ever in East Turkestan.The situation of Uyghurs even worsened since the July 5 2009 events in Urumqi. In July 5 2009, Chinese security forces brutally cracked down a peaceful demonstration of mainly Uyghur students.

According to official numbers – to 197 dead people; however we believe (based on eyewitness reports) that this number is in fact much higher, going into thousands. Also, thousands of people disappeared during and in the aftermath of 5 July, thousands were detained. The exact numbers are unknown until today, since the Chinese government has not yet allowed an independent investigation of these events. After uprising, Chinese government immediately implemented death sentences.

On November 26, 2009, the European Parliament passed a resolution. The resolution strongly condemned the execution of Tibetans and Uyghurs.

However, Chinese authorities have ignored all warnings from UN, the European Parliament and all international communities and continue to carry on “Strike hard” campaigns and “anti-terrorist campaign”.

China’s Chief Prosecutor of the Xinjiang People’s Procuratorate, at the 12th annual Xinjiang regional People’s Congress session, proudly boasted that arrests in East Turkestan doubled as compared to 2013, as a direct result of its new counter-terror campaign. He stated that 27,164 “terror suspects” were arrested in the region in 2014, despite providing no substantive information about the nature of the arrests.

According the Chinese official report, 2013 and 2014 within 2 years, more than 125 violence happened and 745 persons were killed.  But real number is definitely higher than Chinese report.

Since January 2016, China has implemented new Anti-Terrorism Law. the law will open the door for even more abuses, particularly the Uyghur and Tibetan communities. The Law doesn’t ensure the security of the people and will only increase tension through the criminalization of legitimate activities.

The Chinese government is planning sweeping educational changes in East Turkestan which will force all Uyghur Schools to merge with Chinese schools, imposing Chinese as the language of instruction. Uyghur students are being forced to use Chinese in schools starting from elementary school to university, although Uyghur language has been the official language of the Uyghur Autonomous Region since 1955 by law.

Consequently, hundreds and thousands of Uyghurs have been escaped to neighboring countries from of prosecution by Chinese government. The most heartbreaking side of the story is that they have been deported to China after they have safely arrived and made their refuge claims in relevant UNHCR agency in neighboring countries.

Recently year, particularly since 2014 huge and seriously Uyghur refugees and humanitarian crisis has been happened. More than 10,000 Uyghurs have been escaped within one year.

Among them around 350 Uyghur refugees were detained in Thailand in March 2014.

in July 2015, 173 Uyghurs, mostly women and children have arrived in Turkey for resettlement after being detained for more than a year by Thai immigration. But, on 8 July 2015, 109 Uyghurs who had been held in an immigration detention facility in Bangkok, were illegally and forcibly returned to China in clear violation of the non-refoulement principle and international refugee law.

As it stands, 60 Uyghurs remain in immigration detention facilities in Thailand who have been held for more than three years without access to legal remedy.

The situation over the years is by no means remarkable. Uyghur asylum seekers have been forcibly deported from states with strong trade and diplomatic ties to China for many years. In December 2009, 20 were returned to China from Cambodia, another 5 from Pakistan and 11 from Malaysia in August 2011, and another six again from Malaysia in what Human Rights Watch called a “grave violation of international law” in 2013. In addition, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Burma, and Nepal have also extradited Uyghurs to China and since 2001 at least 289 Uyghurs have been forcibly deported.

Since August 2016, the former Tibet party secretary Chen Chuanguo has been appointed as a party secretary in XUAR, he began to implement new security measures.  he built hundreds and thousands of checkpoints and Police monitoring stations across the region. At the moment, in Urumqi, about 960 Police monitoring station have been built.

Between the highway from Urumqi to Kashgar, there are 21 main checkpoints. Each of these checkpoints has about 25 to 35 fully armed soldiers, police and traffic police, who mostly check Uyghurs.

Freedom of movement for Uyghurs has been seriously restricted. Other new police is Passport confiscation since October 2016. Actually, the passport issue is complicated and long process for the Uyghurs. It was not simple and easy to get the passport for Uyghurs.

Recent reports show that from 3500 to 5000 mosques have been destroyed by the government since August 2016, in a so-called “Mosque Rectification” campaign. Praying outside of state-sanctioned mosques is now illegal, so Uyghurs who have had their mosque destroyed are prohibited from any organized religious activities.

Today, I would like to draw your attention one again to remember Prof. Ilham Tohti. He is absolutely innocence person, like couple of human rights defender whose are in jail in China. Ilham bravely spoken out  rights Uyghurs according the Chinese constitution and autonomic laws. He sentenced to life and he is suffering in the jail today.

We call the Chinese government to respect International law, its own constitution and Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law and grant Uyghurs, Tibet, Monghul, Falun Gong faction and Christian believers genuine religious freedom, economic opportunity, cultural rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law.

The Chinese government should end its aggressive policy and should stop its cultural genocide of the Uyghur people.

 At the end, we recommend that:

  • The European Parliament and Commission to look at China critically to make sure that the new Anti-Terror legislation is amended so that it falls within international human rights norms.
  • Relevant UN Bodies, European Union and other international Bodies more closely with Chinese government and monitoring the implementation of the counter terrorism law.
  • European Parliament pass an urgent regulation on protect for the Human rights of uyghurs, particularly religious, language and cultural rights for Uyghurs and protecting Uyghur refugees according to the principle of the non-refoulement  and 1951 International Refugees convention.