PRESS RELEASE: Uyghur Women Organise Worldwide Demonstrations Through ‘One Voice, One Step’ Initiatiative
The WUC is proud to support Uyghur women around the world in the ‘One Step, One Voice’ Initiative, who have organised a series of demonstrations on March 15th. The demonstrations seek bring attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in East Turkestan, especially China’s mass detention of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in ‘re-education’ camps, and to demand that action be taken by the international community. Demonstrations will be held in 15 cities in 13 countries around the world, including: the USA, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Turkey, Sweden, the UK, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Finland and Japan.
The demonstrations have been organised under the banner of the ‘One Step, One Voice’ initiative. One Voice, One Step was founded by a group of Uyghur women based in the United States and Europe to advocate for the human rights of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan. The initiative seeks to mobilise and unite the Uyghur women in the diaspora community to work together to improve the situation for the Uyghur people through concrete actions. The March 15 protests, organised in collaboration with Uyghur American Association, is the campaign’s first event. March 15th was chosen as the date for the protests, as it coincide with the 62nd session of the UN Commission of the Status of Women. To mark the occasion, Uyghur women in the United States will hold a silent demonstration in front of the United Nations in New York City, followed by a protest at the Chinese Mission to the United Nations.
“All the Uyghur women in the diaspora have come together under this initiative – to be one voice and take one step to show that we will not stay quiet as the Chinese government attempts to take away our basic human rights, wipe away the Uyghurs of East Turkistan under its occupation,” said Rushan Abbas, one of the organisers of the event and active member of the One Step, One Voice Initiative.
These demonstrations have come at an important time, as the situation of the Uyghur people in East Turkestan continues to get worse. As Xi Jinping solidifies his power in China, the situation in East Turkestan continues to get worse. Repressive new security and surveillance measures implanted by the region’s party secretary, Chen Quanguo, have effectively turned East Turkestan into an open-air prison, as the most heavily policed region on earth. Uyghur culture, religion and language have all been targeted by the Chinese government, as it launches a campaign of assimilation aimed at diminishing the Uyghur community by attacking the unique Uyghur identity.
The demonstrations also seek to demand that the international community take action to end the use of ‘re-education’ camps. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Uyghurs have been rounded up by the Chinese authorities. Uyghurs living abroad have lost all contact with loved ones and friends who have vanished into the camps and are growing increasingly desperate at their inability to help them.
Uyghur leaders, activists and journalists are also being punished for their work, as China arrests and detains their family members. Rebiya Kadeer, a prominent Uyghur leader, has had 30 members of her family arrested in the past year. In January 2018, Gulchehra Hoja, a journalist with Radio Free Asia, had 20 of her relatives detained and sent to ‘re-education’ camps in retaliation for her reporting on the human rights situation in East Turkestan.
In response to this, on 15 March 2018, Uyghur women will have their voices heard as they demand that the rights of the Uyghur people be respected and call for China to be held accountable for its actions. We call on the international community to listen to their calls and take concrete action to improve the situation of the Uyghur people.