PRESS RELEASE: Human Rights Cannot be Traded: Germany Must Raise Voice Against the Uyghur Genocide
On the occasion of the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Berlin on September 1st, the World Uyghur Congress is calling on the German government to use the opportunity to publicly raise the Uyghur crisis and hold China accountable for its genocide against Uyghurs.
While we are grateful to the German government for raising the Uyghur crisis on a number of occasions in the past, the situation for the Uyghur people has continued to deteriorate. In the past 3 years, 1-3 million Uyghurs have been detained in camps, Uyghur women have been sterilized in an attempt to diminish the Uyghur population, Uyghurs have been subjected to forced labour and modern slavery, Uyghur language has been banned in many schools and prefectures, every the most basic expressions of religious sentiment have been criminalized, Uyghur mosques, shrines, graveyards and homes have been destroyed, children have been taken away from their families and the CCP has sought to eradicate the Uyghur identity and forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people. The number of atrocities the Uyghur people have been forced to endure is heartbreaking and fits the definition of genocide under the UN Genocide Convention.
Such horrific atrocities necessitate a robust and coordinated response from Germany and the international community. This must shock our collective consciousness and spur us to urgent and meaningful action. We must not allow another genocide to happen before our eyes, the Uyghur people cannot endure these atrocities indefinitely.
Germany now has the opportunity to make a principled stand and enact real change to address this tragedy. We call on the German government, especially German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, to substantively and publicly raise the Uyghur crisis and other human rights issues in their discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and to use their time holding the presidency of the EU Council to push for meaningful and substantive action to stop the Uyghur genocide.
This is a critical moment, as Germany currently holds the presidency of the EU Council. Germany and the EU have significant leverage to push for China to change its behaviour and abide by international norms and standards. China needs access to the German and EU markets, as its economy has been hard hit by the ongoing pandemic, historic floods and growing debt. China’s aggressive foreign policy has resulted in conflict with many of its neighbors and China is finding itself increasingly isolated. China needs the EU, and the EU and Germany need to use this opportunity to stop the Uyghur genocide.
Now is the time to redefine Germany and the EU’s relationship with China, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business as usual must not continue with a government actively committing genocide and other atrocities. China has routinely failed to uphold its commitments to respect human rights. Germany and the EU must ensure that there are consequences if China fails to stop its atrocities or meet its human rights obligations. The WUC calls on Germany and the EU to also have human rights and the Uyghur crisis features prominently in the EU-China Summit on September 14th and to ensure that discussions on the EU-China Investment Agreement are conditional on China stoppings its genocide against Uyghurs and related atrocities.
“Our professed beliefs and actions lose all their meaning if they are not followed by concrete actions,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa. “We cannot sit idly by while another genocide occurs. When we say never again, we have to mean it.”
The German government has an important opportunity to take real and meaningful action to address the Uyghur crisis and put pressure on the Chinese government. This is the time to make important and difficult decisions. Germany, the EU and the world cannot continue to appease or continue normal relations with the Chinese government. We, as a society will look at this moment as a crucial turning point in world history.
The WUC is calling on the German government to:
- Substantively raise the Uyghur genocide and other human rights violations in discussions with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
- Meet with representatives from the Uyghur, Tibetan and Hong Kong communities to discuss the situation.
- Commit to taking concrete action in a national and EU context to end the Uyghur genocide and other atrocities against Uyghurs, Hong Kongers, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians and Chinese democracy activists.
- Insist that any signing of the EU-China Investment agreement be conditional on China stopping its genocide against Uyghurs and meeting its human rights obligations.