Uyghur Friendship Group Holds First Event in the European Parliament

World Uyghur Congress, 27 June 2018

On 26 June 2018, from 12:30 – 14:30, the Uyghur Friendship Group, in collaboration with the European People’s Party (EPP) held their first event in the European Parliament since their inception. The conference was entitled “A People Under Threat: Hundreds of Thousands of Uyghurs Arbitrary Detained in China” and focused on the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in political indoctrination camps in East Turkistan.

The Uyghur Friendship Group serves as an informal network of MEPs, representing the different political groups of the European Parliament, and delegates from EU member states, who come together on a regular basis to address the challenges the Uyghur community faces.

The event brought together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the Uyghur Friendship Group, members of the Uyghur diaspora and academics to discuss the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in East Turkistan and to think of concrete steps that the EU could take to improve the situation of the Uyghur people.

After introductions from the moderator, Lucia Parucci from the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, MEP and co-chair Csaba Sogur gave some opening remarks on behalf of the Friendship Group, stating his grave concerns at the situation and China’s use of political indoctrination camp.

MEP and co-chair of the Uyghur Friendship Group Ramon Tremosa also gave remarks, expressing solidarity with the Uyghur people in their struggle for human rights and democracy, saying “Your fight is my fight.”

This was followed by a presentation from Dr. Rachel Harris, a prominent academic from SOAS University in London, whose research has focused on Uyghur culture and the situation in East Turkistan. She gave a detailed and insightful presentation about China’s repression of Uyghurs and the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in political indoctrination camps.

Next WUC President Dolkun Isa addressed the participants of the impact that the political indoctrination camps has had on the Uyghur community, in East Turkistan and abroad. He informed participants of the devastating toll China’s repression was taking on the Uyghur community and called on the EU to raise this issue in its upcoming EU-China Human Rights Dialogue and to pass an urgent resolution on the issue.

Following this, MEP Laszlo Tokes gave some remarks, stating what the European Parliament had already been doing to address the repression of Uyghur and said the they would do all that was possible to help improve the situation. A statement from MEP and Vice-President Fabio Castaldo of the European Parliament was also read out, in which he articulated his concern at the situation and called for action. The event concluded as MEP Csaba Sogur gave some closing remarks and restated the Uyghur Friendship Group’s commitment to raising the situation of the Uyghur people in the European Parliament.

The WUC is thankful to all those who attended the first meeting of the Uyghur Friendship Group. We hope that it will serve as a springboard for concrete action from the EU to address the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in East Turkistan.