WORLD UYGHUR CONGRESS NEWSLETTER NO.1: SPECIAL EDITION
WORLDWIDE PROTEST ACTIONS IN COMMEMORATION OF THE EVENTS OF 5TH JULY 2009
On the first anniversary of the 5 July 2009 violence in East Turkestan, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) launched worldwide protest actions in 17 countries to ensure that the world does not forget about the devastating plight of the Uyghur people. The WUC sent personal letters to more than 70 members of national parliaments and to 50 NGOs around the world in order to ask for support for the actions. Peaceful demonstrations and other side events to commemorate the many lives that were lost in Urumqi, East Turkestan on 5 July 2009 were held (among others) in the United States, Japan, Turkey, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. The actions around the globe have to be understood also as a call on Chinese authorities to start a meaningful dialogue with the leaders of the Uyghur community on the situation in East Turkestan. The WUC as well its member associations and the president of the WUC, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, have repeatedly highlighted that governmental violence as a political tool is a dead-end-street in the relation between Han Chinese and Uyghur population in East Turkestan and that only through an honest dialogue peace can be reached in the region.
The World Uyghur Congress’ English press release from 29 June 2010 on the international week of action, which among other things provides sourced background information on the July 2009 incidents in Urumqi and the human rights violations committed by the Chinese authorities against the Uyghurs during and since those incidents, can be found here.
Background of the unrests in July 2009
The unrest began with a peaceful demonstration of Uyghurs in the city who were protesting against a lack of government action in regard to a deadly attack on Uyghur factory workers in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province in the south of China. Only due to the violent intervention of the Chinese security forces the protests escalated. The riots on 5 July 2009 and in subsequent days, in which hundred of people were killed (according to data published by the Chinese Xinhua news agency, 197 people were killed, but the World Uyghur Congress estimates – based on eyewitness reports – that more than 1000 people died in the riots) must be attributed to the continued denial of human rights for Uyghurs in East Turkestan.
Since the protests in July 2009, Chinese authorities arrested thousands of people and a vast number of Uyghurs, including teenage boys, were forcibly disappeared. Eyewitnesses reported to media and international human rights organizations like Amnesty International that the Chinese security forces committed extrajudicial killings of demonstrators. In addition, persons who are accused of having participated in the protests were subjected to unfair trials. So far, at least 24 Uyghurs have been sentenced to death and at least eight Uyghurs to death with a two-year reprieve for murder or other crimes allegedly committed during the July 2009 events. So far, according to official information, at least eight Uyghurs have been already executed, but the WUC believes that all 24 Uyghurs sentenced to death have been already executed. The WUC also assumes that secretly more Uyghurs have been sentenced to death in relation with the Urumqi unrest. Following these terrible events, Chinese authorities imposed the most violent and repressive information crackdown on Uyghurs in history. East Turkestan was cut off hermetically from the outside world about ten months.
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