PRESS RELEASE: WUC Holds Successful March and Demonstration in Brussels on 27 April 2018
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) along with its co-organisers, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), held a successful demonstration along with the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in Brussels, Belgium on April 27th, 2018.
Thousands of Uyghur demonstrators gathered from around the world in Belgium as the Chinese government continued to accelerate its detention of Uyghurs in ‘re-education’ camps in East Turkistan. They assembled at Square de Meeus and marched through the heart of the European Union, loudly calling on the European institutions and the international community to speak out against China and demanding the immediate release of their friends, relatives and the 1 million Uyghurs arbitrarily detained in so-called ‘re-education’ camps by the Chinese government.
The march ended at Schuman roundabout, where the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service, the EU’s foreign policy wing, were located. The Uyghur community then held a static demonstration, delivering speeches and collectively calling on the institutions of the European Union to do something to help the Uyghur people.
Speaking at the demonstration were a number of supportive NGOs including the UNPO, International Campaign for Tibet, Society for Threatened Peoples, the Non-Violent Radical Party, and Assyrian Confederation of Europe as well as a statement from 14 Members of European Parliament from the Uyghur Friendship Group.
Speakers from WUC affiliate organisations also took to the stage to voice their concerns from their own communities with countless family members who have disappeared.
A statement on behalf of 14 members of the Uyghur Friendship Group was also read, urging the institutions of the European Union to take immediate action to release the 1 million Uyghurs arbitrarily detained in ‘re-eduaction’ camps.
WUC President Dolkun Isa, Executive Chairman Omer Kanat and the Special Leader of the WUC Rebiya Kadeer, also delivered impassioned speeches calling for support from the international community and on the Uyghur community to not relent and to keep this momentum going in their struggle to secure the release of their relatives and human rights, freedom and democracy for the Uyghur people.
Following the protest, Dolkun Isa delivered a statement to Radio Free Asia, saying ““This is only the beginning, This protest showcases the complete awakening and unity of the Uyghur people. We are here to call on the EU, the U.N., the U.S., and the international community to raise the case of the nearly one million Uyghurs extrajudicially detained by the Chinese authorities. We urge the European Union to act on behalf of the Uyghur people, [and] we are here to send a clear message to the Chinese government that no matter how it represses the Uyghur people, it can never break our spirit for freedom, democracy, and human rights.”
The leadership of the WUC also met with high level officials at the European Commission and the European External Action Service. They presented the European officials with a petition outlining what was happening in the ‘re-education’ camps and calling on the European Union to take concrete action to end this massive human rights violation.
Uyghur communities from all over the world also held demonstrations in solidarity with the Uyghur March for Freedom. In total, demonstrations were held in 9 cities in 5 countries around the world, including Washington and San Francisco in the USA, Tokyo in Japan, Adelaide in Australia and Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Calgary in Canada.
This demonstration was one of the largest mass mobilisations of the Uyghur diaspora and will provide the momentum for continued activism. On April 27th, Uyghurs had their voices heard in the heart of Europe. They will not be quiet again until their relatives are released from arbitrary detention and their basic rights are respected.
The WUC would like to thank all those who came from across Europe to participate, the other NGOs and activists who spoke at the event and the Belgian police for their professional conduct.