Weekly Brief October 20th

World Uyghur Congress, 20 October 2017

WUC Issues Press Release Expressing Concern Over China’s 19th Party Congress Rhetoric

The  World Uyghur Congress issued a press release this week expressing its deep concern with the troubling rhetoric espoused in China’s 19th Party Congress, especially in the speech of  Xi Jinping.

The World Uyghur Congress has been closely watching the developments of the 19th Party Congress this week in Beijing and remain worried about rhetoric underscoring policies that undermine the basic rights of the Uyghur population. Xi’s rhetoric during his marathon speech reinforced his approach during the preceding five years in which strict clampdowns on civil society and dissent were achieved.

In a three and a half hour address to the delegates of the Congress, Xi highlighted what he perceived to be the ‘accomplishments’ of China and put forward his vision for the country going forward. The ‘China’ he has envisioned remains troubling on a number of counts. Emphasised was Chinese exceptionalism in the international community as well as the development of ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ – a system which Xi looks to make an indelible mark upon.

The speech explicitly reflected support for a renewed Chinese nationalism as well as the implicit rejection of recognised norms of the international community, largely enshrined in international law. It implies a rejection of the universality of democracy and human rights in favour of a uniquely ‘Chinese’ model of governance and development.

We will continue to monitor the outcome of the 19th Party Congress given that its leader regards himself as acting outside universal human rights norms and does not tolerate any threats to his rule. As China seeks to export its model of governance to the rest of the world, it is our hope that the international community will join us in denouncing a vision of China that puts power over its people.

Uyghur Friendship Group Established at the European Parliament

On Thursday, 19 October 2017, representatives from the World Uyghur Congress joined Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), members of the Uyghur community and others to inaugarate the Uyghur Friendship Group in the European Parliament. The Friendship Group is the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy work in the institutions of the European Union, especially by the staff at UNPO.

The Uyghurs Friendship Group will serve as an informal network of MEPs who gather regularly to address the Uyghur community’s harsh human rights situation  and will direct its focus towards the European political agenda, in accordance with the European Parliament’s strategy in respect of minorities rights. It is an important step for Uyghur human rights advocacy in the European Parliament and establishes a focal point for future action on Uyghur-related issues.

The event to commemorate the formation of the Uyghur Friendship Group was held at the European Parliament, in collaboration with MEPs Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Csaba Sógor. Speakers including MEPs, scholars, representatives from NGOs and Uyghur community leaders gave their support for the group and shared ideas about the culture and human rights situation of the Uyghur people. The event concluded with a cultural event featuring Uyghur singing, poetry reading and dancing.

World Uyghur Congress Holds Successful Youth Training Seminar in Stockholm, Sweden

The World Uyghur Congress held a successful Uyghur youth advocacy training seminar in Stockholm, Sweden from 13-15 October, which brought together many interested Uyghur participants eager to speak and eager to learn about how they may contribute to the Uyghur cause. 

The participants listened to presentations academics, human rights activists and Uyghur community leaders on a variety of topics including self-determination, human rights advocacy in the Swedish context, advocating for human rights in the US, UN and EU, how to engage on Uyghur issues on social media and how to communicate effectively. The training focused on building the participants leadership capacity and providing them with concrete tools and strategies to engage on Uyghur-related human rights issues in their communities. 

The training seminar also gave the youth participants a platform to have their voice heard about their own personal feelings about advocacy and how they see the Uyghur movement today. The WUC came away with critical insights into how we can improve our own work in the future and maintain these important connections in Sweden.

China Detains and Brainwashes Imams Who Don’t Strictly Follow the Party Line

Chinese authorities in East Turkestan have launched a crackdown on imams who refuse to toe the party line and don’t strictly abide by directives from the CCP on teaching Islam. These imams are reportedly detained and sent to reeducation camps, as China ramps up its efforts to control every aspect of religious practice in East Turkestan.

Children of Detained Uyghurs Face Poor Conditions in Overcrowded Orphanages

As a result of the Chinese authorities detaining thousands of Uyghurs and sending them to reeducation camps for extended periods of time, the children of those who have been detained are being forced into overcrowded orphanages. The widespread nature of the arrest and detention of Uyghurs has put significant strain on the orphanages in East Turkestan and the children are suffering, not only from losing their parents, but also from the poor nutrition and cramped conditions inside the orphanages.

Uyghurs in Reeducation Camps Forced to Express Remorse for Travelling Abroad

Chinese authorities in Korla City in East Turkestan are reportedly detaining a large number of Uyghurs who have travelled overseas and forcing them into reeducation centres. The detained Uyghurs are reportedly being being held in the reeducation centres until they express remorse for leaving the country.