Weekly Brief August 25th
World Uyghur Congress, 25 August 2017
WUC Denounces Unjust Sentencing of Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Leaders in Press Release
The World Uyghur Congress issued a Press Release this week expressing its strong concern after the unjust sentencing of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow. The result leaves no doubt that Hong Kong authorities have chosen to side with injustice and the silencing of peaceful dissent since the rise of the umbrella movement in 2014.
The Court of Appeal of the High Court of Hong Kong sentenced Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law between six and eight months in prison for their involvement in demonstrations that resulted in the 2014 Umbrella Movement. The sentences relate to a specific incident on September 26, 2914 when a number of students pushed their way into a fenced-off area of Civic Square.
The sentencing disqualifies the three figures from running for elected office for five years, which invariably represents a blow to the momentum of the Movement that began in 2014. On the other hand, the sentencing has the potential to galvanise further support and opposition to Hong Kong authorities for the openly unjust verdict.
The World Uyghur Congress therefore expressed its clear opposition to this decision, but also our hopefulness looking forward. China will continue to attempt to silence dissent, but what will and has already emerged is a more resolute population yearning for a system in which their voices are truly heard.
Cambridge University Press Does a U-Turn Over Article Censorship in China
It emerged this week that the Cambridge University Press had blocked 300 articles in its scholarly publication, The China Quarterly, at the request of Chinese authorities. The news was met with outrage by academics and human rights organizations, including the World Uyghur Congress. The subject matter of the blocked articles included Uyghurs and East Turkestan, Tibet and Tiananmen, amongst others.
In response to the censorship, academics, journalists and human rights activists put significant pressure on the Cambridge University Press, with many threatening to boycott the China Quarterly. This pressure had a substantial effect, as the Cambridge University Press reversed its stance this week and decided to unblock the articles. While this reversal is significant for freedom of thought and academic freedom, it is also a reminder of the threat posed by Chinese censorship and influence within China and, increasingly, abroad.
Globe and Mail Journalist Detained by Chinese Police in East Turkestan
A Canadian journalist, the Globe and Mail’s Asia correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe, was detained in East Turkestan for 3 hours by Chinese police and had his computer and camera seized and search. VanderKlippe was arrested in a small village in the Elishku township while trying to interview local people. The Globe and Mail reported it was the second recent incident of harassment of its journalists by Chinese police in the region. This incident is a reminder of the lack of press freedom in China and the difficulties journalists routinely face while trying to report on East Turkestan. It is also a a glimpse into the repressive atmosphere that Uyghurs in the region are subjected to on a daily basis.
China Recruiting 30,000 Teachers, Police & Civil Servants to Move to East Turkestan
Chinese authorities in East Turkestan have reportedly launched a massive nationwide recruitment campaign for as many as 30,000 new police, civil servants and teaching position in East Turkestan. The campaign seems to be primarily focused on incentivizing Han Chinese people from the rest of China to move to East Turkestan, with applicants required to take a “political test” as part of the application process. This coincides with a massive increase in hiring of police and security personnel, reported to number 74,000 since the beginning of the year. With high levels of unemployment and marginalization of Uyghur people in the region and many Uyghur teachers losing their jobs, the campaign is a worrying development and an indication of China’s desire to establish even greater control in the region.