WUC to Hold Conference on ‘Religious Freedom and Cultural Values Under Siege’ in Washington D.C.

World Uyghur Congress, 31 January 2018

On 26 February 2018, the World Uyghur Congress in cooperation with the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), the Uyghur American Association (UAA) and the Unrepresented Nations and peoples organisation (UNPO) will hold a conference in Washington D.C. entitled ‘Religious Freedom and Cultural Values Under Siege’. The event will be held in the U.S. Congress in the Canon House Office Building and will last from 10:30 – 12:30. This conference will bring together U.S. officials and policy makers, human rights activists, academics and representatives from the Uyghur diaspora to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation in East Turkestan and what concrete steps can be taken to address the urgent situation there.

This event comes at an important time, as Uyghurs face increasingly serious persecution for their religious beliefs and for expressing their unique culture and language. In 2017, the Chinese government introduced a raft of new legislation which highly restricted religious freedom for the Uyghurs and gave the Chinese government control over almost every aspect of religious practice. Men were banned from growing long beards, women from wearing hijabs and parents were not permitted to name their children Muslim names. We have also seen the mass incarceration of Uyghurs in ‘re-education’ camps for holding religious beliefs, not conforming the strict party line or even for being associated with anyone with foreign ties. Over 120,000 Uyghurs are being detained in camps around Kashgar alone, with more than 1 million estimated to be detained across East Turkestan. Furthermore, the Uyghur language was banned at all levels of education in the Hotan prefecture at the start of the fall semester in September 2017. These actions are part of a larger campaign of assimilation aimed at eroding the unique Uyghur identity by targeting what makes the Uyghur people unique: culture, religion and language. This conference is an important opportunity to raise awareness of this threat to the Uyghur identity and to push for action to stop the persecution.

 

 

Confirmed Speakers (list will be updated):

–      Sean Roberts (George Washington University)

–      Teng Biao (University of Politics and Law in Beijing, visiting scholar at Harvard Law School)

–      Nicole Morgret (Uyghur Human Rights Project)