World Uyghur Congress, 05 March 2020 

During the 43th session of the UN Human Rights Council an Item 3 Oral Statement was made on behalf of Society for Threatened Peoples regarding the recent leaked document, the transfer of Uyghurs to forced labour facilities and the Coronavirus outbreak in East Turkistan.

The estimated 1-3 million Uyghurs still being detained in internment camps by the Chinese government are at a particular risk if the virus is not contained.

The full text of the speech can be read below:

Madam Vice President, I’m speaking on behalf of Society for Threatened Peoples.

In the past few months, we have seen three major leaks of Chinese communist Party documents that have provided a much clearer picture of the origin and nature of China’s policy of mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in internment camps.

This crisis has been going on for too long, and the international community hasn’t been doing enough. China is still not being held accountable for its gross human rights violations. We are deeply disappointed in the 50 countries who recently signed the letter backing China’s repressive policies, who are actively supporting an ongoing crime against humanity. 

The Chinese government recently claimed to have released all the detainees, but evidence suggests otherwise, and some are now subjected to forced labor. Evidence shows that foreign and Chinese companies are benefiting from these forced labor transfer programs. 

As we all are witnessing the rapid spread of the Coronavirus globally, we are deeply concerned about the millions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities detained in camps, who are at particular risk.

Reports and witnesses have evidenced that detainees are imprisoned in cramped, overcrowded rooms with poor hygiene and sanitation. There’s now credible news reporting suggesting that residents in the region weren’t given any notice of quarantine and are now facing food shortage. 

We urge the Chinese government and the international community to finally put human lives above politics and face-saving. Close the camps, release the millions of innocent people in arbitrary detention and allow the UN and global health agencies meaningful access to the region before it is too late.