Weekly Brief September 15th

World Uyghur Congress, 15 September 2017

World Uyghur Congress Attends the UN Human Rights Council 36th Session

This week, representatives from the World Uyghur Congress have been attending the 36th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The World Uyghur Congress has been active in working with other NGOs, UN officials and the Permanent Missions to the UN to raise the numerous human rights violations being committed against the Uyghur people and to discuss ways that the situation could be improved.

As part of the WUC’s activities in Geneva the General Secretary, Dolkun Isa, spoke at two side-events of the Human Rights Council. The first event, co-organized by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), the Society for Threatened People and the Tibet Justice Centre sought to address “UN Participation Challenges”. Dolkun Isa spoke about the challenges that human rights defenders and activists seeking to address human rights violations in China routinely face when trying to raise these issues in the UN. He then shared his own experiences of repeated harassment by Chinese officials and attempts to stop him from speaking at the UN and other international forums.

Dolkun Isa also represented the WUC  in a side event entitled “Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2017: A Dream for Unrepresented Nations and Peoples” , which was co-organized by UNPO and the Nonviolent Radical Party. Isa spoke about the religious persecution being perpetrated against the Uyghur people by the Chinese government and the ever-tightening restrictions on their Freedom of Religion. The situation has been getting worse in recent years, with the state passing new legislation that will give the Chinese government effective control over almost every aspect of religious practice. Isa gave numerous examples of these restrictive and Islamophobic measures, such as banning halal food labels, forcing Muslims to eat during Ramadan and forcing Uyghurs to drink alcohol.

The WUC will continue its activities at the UN Human Rights Council session next week.

Human Rights Watch Calls for Immediate Release of “Political Education” Detainees

Human Rights Watch has called upon the Chinese government to immediately free people held in unlawful “political education” centers in East Turkestan and shut them down. Thousands of Uyghurs have been subjected to ‘political re-education’, not because they have done anything wrong, but because they are deemed ‘politically unreliable’.

In the ‘political education’ centres, Uyghurs are subjected to political indoctrination and are reportedly forced to learn the Chinese language and recite Chinese laws and policies. Uyghur detainees are also reportedly forced to watch pro-government propaganda videos, and to renounce their ethnic and religious identities.

The World Uyghur Congress joined Human Rights Watch in calling for an immediate end to this practice, as it clearly constitutes arbitrary detention and is a violation of human dignity and international law. It also further demonstrates the Chinese government’s drive to assimilate the Uyghur population and attempts to erode Uyghur culture and identity.

Chinese Authorities Launch Campaign to Rewrite History in East Turkestan.

According the the South China Morning Post,  Yu Zhengsheng, the CCP’s fourth-ranking official who is in charge of religion and ethnic minorities, held a high-level meeting in Beijing in which he stated that the Chinese authorities must “eliminate the influence of incorrect ideas about Xinjiang’s history, culture, ethnicities, religions” and increase propaganda in East Turkestan to “win the public’s trust’ and “fight separatism”. He emphacized that the official Chinese historical narrative must be instilled in the population of East Turkestan. In the past, Chinese authorities have imprisoned Uyghur scholars and journalists who right about the true history of East Turkestan and the current situation there, to silence any dissenting voices. This latest campaign seeks to build on this by forcing a false historical narrative on the population of East Turkestan in attempt to brainwash them, establish greater control over the region and undermine any claims to greater self-determination.