Event Announcement: Repressed, Detained and Disappeared: Uyghur Human Rights Crisis
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is organizing a week-long photo exhibition: ‘’Repressed, Detained and Disappeared: Uyghur Human Rights Crisis ’’ inside a tent at the Broken Chair square in Geneva, in front of the United Nations building (1202 Geneva, Switzerland), from February 24 to February 28, 2020. This event will take place during the first week of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, where world’s leaders and high-level officials will be present for the occasion.
Today, between one and three million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are being arbitrarily detained in internment camps. At the same time, the Chinese government is using East Turkistan as a testing ground for one of the world’s most advanced and intrusive surveillance systems, which are now being sold and exported around the world. Many have now labelled the region a ‘police state’ or a ‘no rights zone’ given the level of monitoring and control of the population.
Uyghurs have suffered from state sponsored discrimination for decades and have routinely been denied their most basic rights and freedoms. We witnessed the introduction and implementation of draconian laws that directly target Uyghurs and their way of life, ostensibly in the name of security and protection against terrorist threats. China’s policies in recent years have gone beyond mere repression and instead seek to totally culturally assimilate and socially reengineer the Uyghur people. These repressive policies have targeted everything that makes the Uyghur people unique: our culture, language, religion, history and our ethnic identity have all come under attack.
With the recent Coronavirus outbreak, which has affected thousands of people in China and globally, the Uyghur people and those detained in camps at particular risk, due to the poor sanitation, unhygienic and overcrowded conditions that camp detainees have been forced to endure, as well as an established pattern of medical neglect in the camps. According to reports published by Radio Free Asia, China treats the coronavirus in the Uyghur region as a state secret. As we have seen in Wuhan, censorship and putting the interests of the CCP above the lives of people has allowed the coronavirus to become a full blown pandemic and has costs hundreds of lives already. China’s censorship puts the life of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in grave danger.
The WUC has received numerous credible reports that Uyghurs across East Turkistan are at risk of hunger or starvation. The Chinese government has reportedly ordered everyone in East Turkistan not to leave their homes, to contain the spread of the virus, or risk arrest or further punishment. Many Uyghur households are now running low on food and other essential items. They have not been able to leave their homes and restock, but have received no support thus far from local authorities, leaving them in a difficult position where they must choose whether to risk arrest and punishment for leaving their homes, or to face hunger and food shortages if they remain at home.
This event aims to highlight the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghurs. The photo exhibition will showcase visual stories that make people stop, feel and act on the current human rights violations happening in East Turkistan. Photos and documentaries about the evidence of the existence of the camps will be showcased. The event will be followed by a reception with Uyghur food, on February 26, at 18:00. We would like to invite anyone in Geneva who is interested in learning more about the crisis and what can be done to help, to come to the exhibition.