PRESS RELEASE: WUC Condemns Attempts by the Chinese Government to Spread Disinformation
The World Uyghur Congress wishes to draw attention to ongoing efforts by the Chinese government to undermine the Uyghur people’s struggle for their basic rights by drawing false parallels to terrorism and by spreading blatant lies and misinformation.
It has long been the strategy of the Chinese government to use the narrative of terrorism to try and delegitimize the Uyghur people’s peaceful struggle for human rights, democracy and freedom and to attempt to justify the brutal repression and sweeping human rights violations against the Uyghur people.
However, we are now witnessing a more targeted and direct propaganda effort, focused on manipulating public opinion in specific countries. One such example is an article published in TNS (the International News), a Chinese propaganda vehicle aimed at a Pakistani audience. The article, written in English, focuses on supposed cross border cooperation between the Pakistani and Chinese authorities.
The article claims that Chinese and Pakistani authorities have been taking action in Pakistan against supposed Uyghur terrorists and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) to protect Chinese infrastructure projects in Pakistan. This ignores the fact that ETIM has not existed as a group for over a decade, if it ever existed at all. Among other glaring errors, it also claims that WUC President Dolkun Isa (written as Dolqun Isa) and WUC Executive Chairman Omer Kanat (written as Umer Kanat) were captured in Pakistan by security forces in a raid against ETIM. This outrageous claim can be easily disproven due to the fact that Dolkun Isa and Omer Kanat have never been in Pakistan and are currently conducting advocacy work in Japan. The article also falsely alleges that Uyghur political prisoners, such as Abudukadir Yapuquan, who is currently arbitrarily detained in Turkey, and Ablimit Tursun who the article claims was killed by Pakistani forces, but who remains very much alive in Germany.
Such glaring and obvious errors cannot be a mistake, but rather constitute an intentional attempt to manipulate the international public, to undermine the Uyghur people’s peaceful resistance to Chinese oppression and to besmirch the names of Uyghur human rights activists by associating them with terrorism. The blatant lies and misinformation should be apparent to anyone with knowledge of East Turkestan or human rights in China, but we are concerned that it has the potential to influence people unfamiliar with the Uyghurs or Chinese politics.
China has repeatedly tried to portray any calls for respect for basic rights for Uyghurs or expressions of dissent as terroristic activity, but never backs up these claims. When pressed to provide credible evidence, the Chinese government consistently fails to provide it.
One notable example of this was the Chinese government’s use of the INTERPOL Red Notice system to try to label the current President of the WUC and prominent Uyghur human rights activist, Dolkun Isa, as a terrorist. After his activities in advocating for the basic rights for the Uyghur people, the Chinese government falsely filed for an INTERPOL Red Notice against him, alleging he was involved in terrorist activities. The red notice stood for approximately 20 years, until it was overturned this year. After diligent work done by Fair Trials, the Red Notice was proven to be politically motivated and the Chinese government were unable to provide any credible evidence of their claims that led to the Red Notice being issued.
In recent weeks, we have also observed a notable increase in lies and misinformation being spread by various media sources about the Uyghur people and the Uyghur diaspora. These efforts are by no means new. Publications like the Global Times, Xinhua and China Daily act as mouthpieces for the Chinese government, spreading its narrative and attempting to influence international audiences. The same day that legitimate media outlets publish articles about the hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs detained in ‘re-education’ camps by the Chinese authorities and the ongoing massive human rights violations against Uyghurs, Chinese propaganda outlets publish articles claiming all the Uyghurs are happy and that any dissent is due to the actions of terrorists.
The World Uyghur Congress must reiterate that it condemns any acts of terrorism or violence and maintains a strictly non-violent approach and a commitment to human rights, democracy and freedom. However, any allegations of terrorist activity from the Chinese government must be taken with a large dose of skepticism and must be supported by clear and substantiated evidence.
These efforts are only likely to increase in the near future, as the Chinese government continues to up the pressure on Uyghurs at home and abroad. It is vital that the international community is aware of the Chinese government’s attempt to manipulate the international public and influence the narrative to cover up and try to justify its inhuman policies towards the Uyghur people. We urge the citizens of the world to fully investigate the sources of their information to seek objectivity, rather than the Chinese government’s fabrications.