China must reunite Uyghur children and parents. Forcible placement of children of living parents in state-run facilities constitutes a crime against humanity

Uyghur Human Rights Project, 19 November 2018

By UHRP – On Universal Children’s Day, November 20, the United Nations must call upon China to close the mass internment camps in East Turkestan and reunite Uyghur children with their parents.

Over the past 18 months, China has placed a vast number of children in state orphanages after interning their parents.

“Forcible family separation is causing unimaginable agony for children and their parents, and it will traumatize a generation of Uyghurs,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat. “Many of the children placed in so-called ‘orphanages’ are taken there against the will of their living parents and relatives.”

Mr. Kanat added: “This is a systematic state policy designed to cut off the next generation of Uyghurs from their language, culture, and ethnic heritage. It fits the definition of ‘crimes against humanity’ on multiple counts.”

Crimes against humanity include widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, including forcible transfer of population; severe deprivation of physical liberty; persecution against any identifiable group on racial, national, ethnic, cultural, or religious grounds; or intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

Since early 2017, China has detained possibly over a million Uyghurs in internment camps. In October 2017, Radio Free Asia broke the story that Uyghur children in Kashgar, Hotan, Aksu and Kucha were being sent to orphanages if their parents had been interned.

A July 2018 Financial Times article detailed how Uyghur children were being forcibly separated from extended family members, even though they wanted to take care of them. The report provided evidence of 18 new orphanages built in one county in Kashgar Prefecture in 2017.

In-depth reporting in September 2018 in The Atlantic called attention to what it called “China’s jaw-dropping family separation policy,” and described children and parents being “ripped apart on a massive scale.” Also in September, The New York Times cited a Uyghur eyewitness who said “the camp she was in was ramshackle enough that children who lived nearby sometimes crept up to a window late at night and called out to their mothers inside. Their children would come and say, ‘Mother, I miss you.’”

Universal Children’s Day marks the 1989 adoption of Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UN General assembly.

UHRP calls upon the UN Security Council and individual governments to impose sanctions on the government of China in light of ongoing crimes against humanity and severe violations of Article 16 (1) and (2) of the Convention:

No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation

The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.