World Uyghur Congress Makes Intervention at 10th UN Forum on Minority Issues

World Uyghur Congress, 30 November 2017

The World Uyghur Congress took the floor on November 30th during the 10th UN Forum on Minority Issues to speak about language rights among the Uyghur community in East Turkestan during a panel discussion on the importance of Education in minority communities.

Below is a copy of the statement:

Thank you Chair,

I am speaking on behalf of the World Uyghur Congress. Ensuring that education is available in one’s mother tongue in particular does not preclude effective integration into society, but can enrich the societies in which they are members.

Education in one’s mother tongue and a second language should not be understood as mutually exclusive – they are complimentary. Multilingualism is a reality – as mentioned by the adviser for the Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth – something to be embraced. Education really is a gateway to the realisation of a number of other rights, the freedom of movement and expression, to participate in the cultural, social and economic life of the State, including rights to employment, health, housing and an adequate standard of living.

For example, in June of this year, a directive was issued by the Education Department of Hotan prefecture, within the Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, that includes a Uyghur population of close to two million Uyghurs. The directive banned the use of the Uyghur language at all education levels in the prefecture beginning on September 1st. The directive requires that local authorities prohibit the use of the Uyghur language in conversation and writing throughout the education system.

The policy is in clear violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 27 of the ICCPR and the Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law. We’re not talking about what is contained in these Conventions, but the application and implementation of those agreed upon norms, as well as follow-up.

Our recommendations for the Forum:

  • Reinforce the fact that the right to education in one’s mother tongue remains foundational to the realization of many other rights – in particular economic rights and the right to employment and to understand and acknowledge that these are interdepedent rights.
  • Could you elaborate on the relationship between these rights and how the Forum may be dealing with this relationship going forward
  • Pay particular attention to the implementation of Conventions relating to access to education and mother tongue education in particular.

If we wish to build a community of shared future for human beings, a shared future necessitates the inclusion of the Uyghur population and all minority populations.

Thank you.