Weekly Brief September 1st

World Uyghur Congress, 1 September 2017

World Uyghur Congress Remembers Victims of Enforced Disappearance on International Day

To mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance on 30 August 2017, the WUC issued a press release remembering the hundreds of Uyghurs who have disappeared and joined other rights groups in calling on the Chinese government to immediately cease this barbaric practice and to pursue justice for the victims and their families. The World Uyghur Congress documented 139 verified cases of Uyghurs who have been forcibly disappeared by Chinese police or security forces, though the number is certainly much higher.

Enforced disappearances are an egregious violation of fundamental human rights and have been labeled as a crime against humanity. It is deeply connected with other serious human rights violations, as those who have disappeared may be subjected to arbitrary detention, torture and summary execution.

In an effort to silence human rights defenders and stamp out any dissent, the Chinese government has used enforced disappearances on many occasions against the Uyghur people. In the wake of unrest in Urumqi in 2009, reports of Uyghurs forcibly disappeared in security sweeps of the city’s neighborhoods emerged in media articles and the reports of human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch reported 43 verifiable cases of enforced disappearance of Uyghurs in the aftermath of the unrest, although the number is certainly much higher. Eight years later, the fate and whereabouts of Uyghur individuals disappeared by the Chinese state is still unknown to their families. The perpetrators of these crimes have never been brought to justice.

Outrageously, this is still occurring in the present moment, with little to no international condemnation. In July 2017, 12 Uyghur religious students were arrested and deported from Egypt to China, at China’s request. Since returning to China, friends, family and international observers have had no news of their well-being or whereabouts. Around 200 Uyghurs still remain in detention in Egypt and will likely face a similar fate if they are returned to China. Enforced disappearances are not a just a past injustice and crime against humanity, it is still a pressing issue facing the Uyghur people.

China Set to Sharply Tighten Restrictions on Religious Activities

Amnesty International reported this week that the Chinese government is set to further increase its already stringent restrictions on religious activities. As part of Xi Jinping’s efforts to curb religious practice under the guise of “guarding against foreign infiltration”, many changes to the Regulation on Religious Affairs are expected to be implemented, which will give the Chinese government formal control over every aspect of religious practice.

This will facilitate further persecution of Uyghur Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists in particular, as the new regulations are expected to result in more religious activities being banned, more financial penalties on religious organizations and increased persecution on those who practice their religion outside state-sanctioned institutions. It is a disturbing development as Uyghur Muslims already have faced widespread religious persecution and restrictions on religious practice and now, it seems, the situation will only get worse.

Urumqi Officials Confirm Security Checks for Uyghur and Kazak Vehicle Registrants

Official sources have confirmed Chinese authorities in East Turkestan are forcing Uyghur and Kazak individuals wishing to register a vehicle to undergo a stringent background test. The background checks are part of a new order from the Urumqi Motorized Vehicle and Testing Department, which went into effect on 21 August 2017. This new measure is a clear example of the racial profiling and ethnic discrimination the Uyghur and Kazak people are forced to endure, as the Chinese authorities seek to control every aspect of life in East Turkestan.

China Holds Ethnic Kazak Students for Praying, Islamic Clothing, Overseas Study

The crackdown on the peaceful practice of Islam in East Turkestan and the targeting of students enrolled in universities outside China has continued this week after Radio Free Asia reported that ‘more than 20’ ethnic Kazak students were being held in detention by Chinese authorities. They were reportedly detained 3 months ago for wearing ‘Islamic’ clothing and praying, which is forbidden by the CCP on university campuses in China. There has been no news of them since their detention.