Weekly Brief June 30th
World Uyghur Congress, 30 June 2017
World Uyghur Congress Attends UNPO’s 13th General Assembly in Edinburgh
World Uyghur Congress General Secretary, Dolkun Isa, and former WUC President, Erkin Alptekin, represented the WUC at the 13th General Assembly of the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organization in Edinburgh, Scotland. The General Assembly lasted from June 26th – June 28th and provided a critical platform for dialogue between UNPO members. Representatives of unrepresented groups from all over the world had the opportunity to discuss the common struggles they face and how to collectively advocate for self-determination and respect for human rights.
During the meeting, a resolution was reviewed and adopted on East Turkestan specifying the concerns of the WUC and addressing our role as a Member Organization of the UNPO going forward. In addition, WUC General Secretary, Dolkun Isa, was elected as the new Vice-President to serve a three-year term.
The Plight of Uyghur Refugees Returned to China
The father of a Uyghur refugee who vanished in police custody and has been missing for 3 years after being deported back to China is now urgently appealing for any information about her whereabouts or well-being.
Radio Free Asia reported she had been attempting to flee China to join her family in exile, but was arrested by Vietnamese police while trying to cross the border into Vietnam. Her family had kept quiet for fear of reprisals, but have decided to break their silence and appeal to the international community for information after receiving no word about her health or location in 3 years.
Sadly, this is just one of many cases of Uyghur refugees who were forcibly returned to China against their wishes. Since 1997, 317 Uyghurs have been illegally and forcibly returned against their will from 15 different countries including Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Germany and Sweden. Many of them face imprisonment, torture and even execution on their return and their families are often given no information about their whereabouts or wellbeing.
To document these cases and make them known to the world, the World Uyghur Congress has just released a freshly updated report on Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers detailing their pained journeys fleeing China. It is important to remember the hundreds of Uyghur refugees who have disappeared, are imprisoned or have been executed merely for fleeing repression and seeking a better life.
35th Round of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue Concludes
The 35th round of the EU-China Dialogue was held from 22-23 June 2017. In a press statement, the European External Action service stated that it raised a number of human rights issues including restrictions on the freedom of expression in China, systemic issues in the criminal justice system, including cases of arbitrary detention and allegations of torture, the freedom of religion and belief, the rights of persons belonging to minorities, especially in Tibet and East Turkestan, and the freedom of peaceful assembly and association, including the implementation of China’s Foreign NGO Activity Management Law. The case of Ilham Tohti was also raised in the talks.
While the World Uyghur Congress recognizes it is very important that the EEAS raises these issues directly to the Chinese government, we echo calls from civil society and the European Parliament to reform the dialogue. As human rights issues raised by European officials are routinely ignored by their Chinese counterparts, the dialogue must be strengthened to be more focused and result-orientated. Otherwise, China will continue to only pay lip service to respecting human rights internationally, while depriving its citizens of their basic rights domestically.
Chinese Authorities Take Further Steps Towards Total Digital Surveillance
On 27 June 2017, a notice from the Chinese police was issued to residents of Urumqi’s Baoshan district in East Turkestan demanding that they had over their personal ID cards, cell phones, external drives, portable hard drives, notebook computers, media storage cards and other digital devices to local authorities for registration and inspection, reported Radio Free Asia.
In a clear effort to control and monitor the Uyghur population under the guise of fighting terrorism, the notice specified that residents would face punishment if they did not comply by 1 August 2017, clearly violating their right to privacy.
Now the Uyghur population finds themselves under constant surveillance, with their every move tracked. These recent measures add to those already in place, where Uyghurs are forced to hand over their smart phones for inspection at police checkpoints and are forced to have compulsory GPS trackers and microchip license plates installed on their vehicles, enabling police to pinpoint the position of vehicles at all times.