One Voice, One Step Worldwide Demonstrations Gains International Attention
World Uyghur Congress, 20 March 2018
Last Thursday, 15 March 2018, hundreds of Uyghurs demonstrated in cities around the world to draw attention to the Chinese government’s repression of the Uyghur people in East Turkestan and urge the international community to take action. Demonstrations were held in 15 cities in 14 countries around the world, including: the USA, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Turkey, Sweden, the UK, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, France, Finland and Japan.
The demonstrations were organised by the One Voice, One Step Initiative, a group of Uyghur women based in the United States and Europe who are taking action 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 successful demonstrations were the initiative’s first action taken, as the organisers succeeded in mobilising hundreds of Uyghur women, children and men across the world in a true example of the power of collective action. The World Uyghur Congress was very proud to support this initiative and sent representatives to participate in the protests.
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 demanded 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.
The demonstrations drew considerable attention from international media and highlighted the urgent situation in East Turkestan to the press, officials and citizens in countries around the world.
In the United States, over one hundred Uyghur women protested in front of the United Nations and, later, in front of the Chinese mission to the UN. The demonstration in front of the UN in NYC was planned to coincide with with the 62nd session of the UN Commission of the Status of Women. A series of speeches were given, including an impassioned appeal from Aydin Anwar for the UN to take action.
A demonstration was also held in Brussels, Belgium in front of the institutions of the European Union. Members of the Uyghur community in Brussels and a representative from the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples, Alex Mckay, gave speeches highlighting the deteriorating situation in East Turkestan.
Other demonstrations were held across the world, from Istanbul to Australia, drawing large crowds and impassioned appeals for action to protect the human rights of the Uyghur people.