European Parliament Conference: “Forbidden to Move, Forbidden to Pray: The Plight of the Uyghurs in China”

UNPO, 28 March 2017

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UNPO  The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in collaboration with the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), will convene a conference at the European Parliament entitled “Forbidden to Move, Forbidden to Pray: The Plight of the Uyghurs in China”.Hosted by Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (ALDE) the event will aim to draw attention to the intensification of the oppression of the Uyghurs of East Turkestan, specifically looking at the systematic denial of their right to freedom of movement and belief. The event will take place on 29 March 2017, from 9:00-12:00, and will be streamed live from UNPO’s Facebook Page (@UNPOIntl).

Under the pretence of “anti-terrorism”, Chinese authorities continue to crackdown on Uyghur communities across East Turkestan, depriving them of their most fundamental human rights. In a context of restricted freedoms, namely their inability to speak their language, banning of schools and any religious activity, this crackdown has significantly intensified in recent months. Monetary incentives are now provided to Chinese citizens of East Turkestan to report on so-called “suspicious terrorist activities or suspicious individuals”. This label, however, includes any individual that openly displays their affiliation with the Uyghur community or any form of dissent from the Chinese government’s policies. Religious practice is also considered a “security threat”, and since June 2016 almost 50% of mosques have been destroyed. Years of systematic and institutionalised denial of the Uyghur’s freedom of belief, association and assembly have resulted in an almost complete criminalisation of religion. Alongside this, the confiscation of passportsGPS tracking of cars and difficulty for Uyghurs to obtain asylum elsewhere once escaping these repressive policies all point to an increasing limitation to their freedom of movement, which don’t show any sign of loosening up anytime soon.

Against this background, the conference hosted by Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP (ALDE) will bring together Members of the European Parliament, academics, human rights experts, politicians and members of the Uyghur diaspora to discuss the current situation on the ground in East Turkestan and what concrete steps must be taken to resolve the issue. High-level panellists will include the World Uyghur Congress’s General Secretary Dolkun Isa;  the Professor at Ankara University Mr Erkin Emet; and Professor at Gazi University Dr Ekrem Arikoglu, among researchers of the Uyghur Human Rights Project and others.

For the conference programme, click here.