Weekly Brief February 23rd

World Uyghur Congress, 23 February 2018

WUC Celebrates Uyghur Language on International Mother Languages Day

The WUC marked the occasion of the UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day by issuing a press release celebrating the Uyghur language and drawing attention to the threats posed to it by assimilatory policies by the Chinese authorities, especially the Uyghur language ban in all levels of education in the Hotan prefecture. 

The Uyghur language has been under threat for many years as assimilatory policies focus on language as a central element of identity. The Chinese government had been making real efforts to weaken and replace the Uyghur language through its so-called ‘bilingual education’ system, which has been developing for at least two decades. The WUC articulated this point in a video which it distributed on social media.

To celebrate the use of of the Uyghur language and to promote discussion of its importance, two former participants of the WUC’s human rights advocacy training seminars submitted videos. They spoke about what their mother language meant to them and how the Uyghur language was an important tool in raising awareness about the suffering of the Uyghur people.

The WUC reminded the international community of the increasing threat to the Uyghur language and recalled the tremendous importance of the freedom to use one’s own mother tongue – something that cannot be denied to millions of Uyghurs in China. Multilingualism and multiculturalism go hand in hand and by sustaining these institutions we act to promote harmony, inclusivity and understanding in the process.

President of “Xinjiang” University Purged Under Campaign Targeting ‘Two-Faced’ Officials

The President of “Xinjiang” University, Tashpolat Teyip, in East Turkestan was removed from his post at the university in March 2017 and detained by Chinese authorities for a perceived lack of sincerity in implementing the doctrine of the Chinese government. Teyip’s removal and detention was part of the Chinese government’s campaign targeting ‘Two-Faced’ Uyghurs who stray from or who are not fully committed to the party doctrine. It is unclear what his current status is or whether he has been released from detention. This case demonstrates the stringent restrictions Uyghurs in East Turkestan are placed under and lack of basic rights, as even those who cooperate with the Chinese government are being targeted and arbitrarily detained for perceived disloyalty, due to their ethnicity.

Gulmira Imin Must Not Be Forgotten

Radio Free Asia published an article this week urging the international community not to forget about the Uyghur activist and administrator of the Uyghur-language Salkin web site, who is now serving the 8th year of a life sentence in prison, after being convicted of ‘ethnic separatism’ in April 2010. Gulmira Imin was known for speaking out against the repressive and violent policies of the Chinese government towards Uyghurs through her writings. It was this that ultimately led to her arrest, after she reportedly called for Uyghur demonstrations in Urumqi in July 2009 that turned violent after Chinese police attacked the protesters.  Hundreds of Uyghurs, including Gulmira Imin, were rounded up by Chinese police after the protest, with many unjustly given lengthly prison sentences or being subjected to enforced disappearances. The WUC echos calls for Gulmira Imin not to be forgotten and calls for the Chinese government to immediately release this prisoner of conscience.

WUC President Attends the 2018 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

This week, WUC President, Dolkun Isa, is attending the 2018 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in the capacity of co-organiser. The Geneva Summit precedes the UN Human Rights Council each year and assembles hundreds of dissidents and human rights victims, activists, diplomats, journalists and student leaders to shine a spotlight on urgent human rights situations that require global attention. The WUC is one of 26 organisations from around the world who co-sponsor this important event.