Weekly Brief June 2nd
World Uyghur Congress, 2 June 2017
World Uyghur Congress Joins Demonstration in Brussels
The World Uyghur Congress, along with International Campaign for Tibet as well as a number of other NGOs, participated in a demonstration on June 2nd at Schuman Circle, Brussels. The demonstration brought together members of the Uyghur and Tibetan communities along with representatives from European Parliament, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Federation for Human Rights, among others.
The demonstration was organized to coincide with the visit of Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, who leads the Chinese delegation who are in Brussels for the EU-China Summit. The WUC as well as a number of other NGOs and activists have already raised strong concerns about the talks and urged leaders including European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to substantively raise the worsening human rights situation in China with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his delegation.
Fourteen European Parliamentarians representing six political groups and eleven countries called on the EU and its member states to “pursue a more ambitious, united and transparent policy with regard to human rights in China that is part of a larger strategy for change, and insist on maintaining a regular, high-level and result-oriented human rights dialogue.”
In an open letter led by Human Rights Watch, 16 NGOs, including the WUC, urged EU leaders to “use that occasion to lead the EU and its member states in demonstrating unified and unambiguous commitment to promoting human rights in China.”
The EU’s Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy sets out guiding principles with regards to foreign policy, outlining the fact that the EU is founded upon the shared principles of “respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” In addition, the document sets out the intention of the EU to “promote human rights in all areas of its external action without exception.”
Ramadan Restrictions Pick Up Where They Left Off for Uyghurs
For the Uyghur population in East Turkestan, Ramadan has become a significant a source of discontent because of restrictions on religious practices throughout the month. Similar restrictions can be traced back at least a decade as the students, civil servants and party members are all prohibited from fasting as well as restaurants being forced to remain open throughout the day.
In addition to restrictions on fasting the WUC has been informed of a number of new measures that have been implemented in Hotan prefecture in particular.
A number of Uyghur families living across the prefecture have been required to have a government official stay with them for the duration of Ramadan to report on their activities. This measure may involve the 352 cadres who were sent to the prefecture in October 2016 as “religious monitors” for three year stints to monitor mosques there and assigned to “keep an eye on the mosques and the people’s religious activities,” though this was not confirmed.
The second report out of Hotan prefecture’s Guma county has been that Uyghurs wishing to visit neighbours during the month of Ramadan cannot meet for more than 15 minutes at a given time. Uyghurs wishing to meet for longer periods must be granted approval by local police.
A third report involves hotels in the prefecture that have changed official dinner times to be earlier in the day that will affect Uyghurs there.
All three reports were said to only apply to the month of Ramadan, but we are not sure whether the policies will be extended.
Muslim Name Ban Extended to Those Under the Age of 16
On the heels of a blanket prohibition on the use of Muslim names for Uyghurs in East Turkestan that was announced in late April, authorities extended the ban to anyone up to the age of 16. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’s Public Security Bureau posted Order No. 4425 requiring all Uyghur parents to change the names of children under 16 years of age, if they are among those listed in a region-wide ban. Radio Free Asia also speculated that the prohibition “may soon include Uyghurs of all ages.”
China Releases White Paper on Human Rights Progress
China released a White Paper on June 1st entitled, “White Paper on the Development and Advancement of Human Rights in Xinjiang” that sets out its supposed progress in terms of human rights and develop in East Turkestan in particular. The report goes on to boast of its progress on civil, political, economic, social and environmental rights as well as touting its work on religious freedom. Similar White Papers have been released in the past in an attempt to paint an altogether inaccurate view of conditions on the ground in the region.