Weekly Brief September 8th

World Uyghur Congress, 8 September 2017

Human Rights Watch Publishes a Report on China’s Efforts to Undermine Human Rights at the UN

This week, Human Rights Watch published a report entitled ‘The Costs of International Advocacy: China’s Interference in United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms’. At a press conference in Geneva, Ken Roth, the chief of Human Rights Watch, unveiled the report and spoke about the repeated efforts by Chinese authorities to block activists, harass experts and silence any criticism of its poor human rights record. He called out the failure of the UN and other countries to address China’s efforts to undermine human rights mechanisms in the UN and to deprive human rights defenders of a forum to voice their concerns.

The report addressed these issues in greater detail. It was based on interviews with 55 people with direct knowledge of China’s interactions with UN human rights mechanisms, including 20 UN officials and experts, 15 foreign diplomats, and 20 civil society representatives. The report called China’s current rights crackdown as the ‘most severe’ since Tiananmen Square. The report goes into detail about the means by which the Chinese government has taken clear steps to limit the action of human rights activists at the United Nations. The World Uyghur Congress’s General Secretary Dolkun Isa is mentioned in the report after he was arbitrarily removed from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in April.

WUC Denounces Violence Against Rohingya Civilians in Myanmar

In response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Myanmar, the World Uyghur Congress issued a press release denouncing acts of violence and intimidation perpetrated against Rohingya civilians in Myanmar in recent days that has led to a massive humanitarian crisis.

The WUC rejects the use of violence for any end, particularly when aimed at defenseless civilians. It is ultimately the innocent and the vulnerable who suffer most from such violence and for that we express solidarity with the peaceful Rohingya people who have been persecuted and targeted for violence on account of their ethnicity and religion.

The press release also expressed dismay at the public statements from Myanmar’s State Counsellor and former Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and noted that the fact that Suu Kyi has not intervened to stop the violence is concerning.

From the perspective of the WUC, we cannot help but draw clear parallels between treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in East Turkestan. We are therefore concerned that Myanmar’s government is following China’s lead in persecuting innocent civilians under the guise of fighting against an armed opposition not representative of the minority population there.

The WUC called on the international community to urge Myanmar to stop its continued persecution of civilians and to immediately address the humanitarian concerns of the tens of thousands of Rohingya forced to flee their homes.

China Imposes New Regulations and Restrictions on Religion

China’s cabinet passed new rules yesterday to further regulate and restrict religious practice under the guise of ‘blocking extremism’. The new rules were controversial amendments to the Regulations on Religious Affairs (RRA) that will extend greater powers to authorities in terms of oversight, as well as the ability of the government to shut down religious organizations that fall outside its approval.

The new measures will add to the already oppressive and unjustifiable restrictions to the Freedom of Religion of the Uyghur people in East Turkestan. They will result in even more state interference, more religious activities banned and more financial penalties on religious organizations. Religious education will also now be under the umbrella of the state, as the Chinese government seeks to control every aspect of religious practice. These new restrictions are set to come into effect on 2 February 2018.