Weekly Brief April 6th

World Uyghur Congress, 6 April 2018

Thousands of Uyghurs to Protest Against ‘Re-education’ Camps on April 27th in Brussels

The WUC announced in a press release this week that it will hold a large-scale march and demonstration in Brussels, Belgium on April 27th to protest against the arbitrary detention of approximately 1 million Uyghurs in ‘re-education’ camps at the hands of Chinese authorities. The demonstration is being co-organized by the World Uyghur Congress, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation.

The demonstration will start at Meeus Square at 10:00am where participants will gather and begin to march to Schuman Square at 11:00am and end following speakers at Schuman Square at 14:00.

Demonstrators are demanding that the EU:

  • Call on the Chinese government to release all Uyghurs held in arbitrary detention or who have been detained without being charged
  • Send an official envoy to investigate the situation on the ground
  • Overhaul and strengthen EU-China Human Rights Dialogue going forward

The demonstration will build on previous efforts to bring attention to the fact that upwards of one million Uyghurs are currently being held in ‘re-education’ camps across East Turkestan. The international community has been largely muted to this fact and the European Union, who outwardly profess the importance of human rights and democracy, have remained remarkably silent.

The World Uyghur Congress urges Uyghurs from across Europe to join this demonstration and add their voices to call for China to immediately release all Uyghurs currently held in arbitrary detention. We can not sit idly by while our relatives and countrymen are suffering and dying. Together, we must loudly call on the European Union to wake up and take action.

U.S. Congressional Leaders Urge U.S. Embassy in China to Prioritise Mass Detention of Uyghurs in ‘Re-education’ Camps

This week, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, in their capacity as co-chairs of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), published a public letter to the U.S. Ambassador for China, Terry Branstad, urging him to prioritise the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in ‘re-education camps’. Also in the letter, they called for the U.S. Embassy in China to conduct research into specific Chinese officials responsible for ‘re-education’ camps and abuse of Uyghurs for possible sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act.

This would be a very important action to put pressure on China to release the estimated 1 million Uyghurs arbitrarily detained in these camps and help bring those officials who implemented this massive human rights violation to justice. We welcome these developments and urge the U.S. government to head Senator Rubio and Representative’s Smith requests and to put it into practice.

WUC Condemns Attempts by the Chinese Government to Spread Disinformation

 The WUC issued a press release this week 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.

An example of this occurred this week when an article published online made bizarre claims that WUC President Dolkun Isa and Executive Chairman Omer Kanat, as well as other Uyghur activists and political prisoners, were detained or killed in raids against terrorist groups in Pakistan.

Dolkun Isa and Omer Kanat were very surprised by these claims, having never been to Pakistan and due to the fact that they are currently in Japan doing human rights advocacy work.

The article, published in TNS (the International News), a Chinese propaganda vehicle aimed at a Pakistani audience, also falsely alleges that Uyghur political prisoners were captured in Pakistan, such as Abudukadir Yapuquan, who is currently arbitrarily detained in Turkey. It also claims that Ablimit Tursun was killed by Pakistani forces, but he 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. 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.

RFA Uyghur Reporters Share the stories of Their Family Members’ Detentions

The Uyghur journalists at Radio Free Asia published an article and video this week in which they talk about the mass arbitrary detention of their relatives in ‘re-education’ camps by China authorities. All the Uyghur journalists at Radio Free Asia have had family members detained by Chinese police in ‘re-education’ camps, likely as reprisals for their work reporting on human rights violations in China. Gulchehra Hoja has had over 20 members of her family arbitrarily detained in the last few months alone. Innocent people are being detained, solely due to the fact that their relatives had the courage to report on the real situation in East Turkestan.

The stories of the reporters shows the human  toll of the ‘re-education’ camps that many Uyghur families in the diaspora have experienced. The victims of the ‘re-education’ camps do not only include the 1 million Uyghurs currently detained in the, but also their friends and families who are desperate to save them.

Uyghur Woman Fired from Government Job and Detained for Expressing Sympathy for Uyghurs in ‘Re-education’ Camps

Pezilet Bekri, a Uyghur women working for the local government in Kashgar,  was removed from her post and arrested for expressing sympathy for Uyghurs detained in ‘re-education’ camps. She reportedly disappeared on 17 January 2018 after she was reported to higher-ups by one of her Chinese colleagues.

It is absurd that expressing basic human empathy can lead to your arrest by China authorities.