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PRESS RELEASE: On the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, WUC Calls for Meaningful Action to End the Uyghur Genocide

PRESS RELEASE: On the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, WUC Calls for Meaningful Action to End the Uyghur Genocide

Press Release – For immediate release
22 October 2020
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
 www.uyghurcongress.org
+49 89 5432 1999 or  [email protected]

Photo Credit: Yvette Su

Today, the 24th of October 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN). When the UN Charter came into force in 1945, nations worldwide joined together in taking the commitment to preserve peace and security, and to improve the standard of life of a global human community. Despite these commitments, the UN continues to face significant challenges to its founding principles. In particular, the crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghur people by the Chinese government cast a dark shadow over what is supposed to be a historic day. On the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) reiterates its calls on the UN and its Member States to meaningfully address the Uyghur crisis and hold the Chinese government accountable for its crimes.

Founded against the backdrop of the horrors of the Second World War and the Holocaust, the UN was established as the main intergovernmental orginization to prevent such atrocities from happening again. Since 1945, 193 countries have joined together in signing and ratifying thousands of resolutions, declarations and other expressions of their commitment to universal and indivisible rights and freedoms for all human beings. Over the past 75 years, the UN has played a crucial role in humanity’s most significant achievements, lifting millions out of poverty and ensuring the freedom and dignity of countless more in the face of conflict, political turmoil, natural disaster and other threats to human rights. Yet, the UN’s founding principles remain as significant as ever, especially in light of the largest mass arbitrary detention since the Second World War occurring today.

Since 2017, millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been arbitrarily detained in internment camps in East Turkistan, where they are exposed to torture, sexual abuse, and forced labour, amongst other atrocities. This mass detention is part of the Chinese government’s targeted attack on every expression of a distinct Uyghur ethnic identity, including the destruction of mosques, shrines and graveyards, bans on the Uyghur language, and separation of Uyghur children from their families. Furthermore, the Chinese authorities have implemented a scheme to suppress Uyghur birthrates in East Turkistan, subjecting Uyghur women to forced abortions, mass sterilizations and other anticonceptive measures. Taken together, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) targeted campaign against the Uyghurs fits the criteria of a genocide under the UN genocide convention.

The words ‘never again’, voiced by the founders of the United Nations in 1945 and many others since, signify a moral commitment to prevent what is happening to the Uyghurs today. In this light, the silence and inaction of the UN on the Uyghur genocide have become all the more poignant. Despite mounting evidence of what is happening to the Uyghurs in East Turkistan, UN Secretary General António Guterres has never publicly spoken out on the Uyghur crisis. Moreover, a separate item or discussion on the Uyghur crisis has been notably absent during UN Human Rights Council (HRC) sessions over the past three years. Even though the CCP’s atrocities against the Uyghur people clearly violate the spirit of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN has continuously failed to meaningfully address the issue and take proportional action. It is unjustifiable that Chinese authorities have never been held accountable for their crimes by the international community.

Furthermore, China’s position and influence within the UN and its human rights mechanisms threaten to erode the principles and values which are at the core of the UN. Just two weeks ago, China was re-elected to the HRC, despite opposition from many civil society organizations and UN Member States. As a country which has continuously used its position in the HRC to silence any debate on its horrific human rights record, China’s threat to the UN human rights system became immediately clear when the country announced its re-election, stating that “there is no universally applicable model” to human rights. This built on earlier efforts to remodel the conception of human rights through a “win-win” resolution, which China recently withdrew because of lacking support. Next to abusing its position within the UN and HRC, China has also used tactics such as the harassment, threatening, and intimidation of UN diplomats and other officials who voiced criticism or other forms of concern over China’s poor human rights record. 

In light of the Uyghur genocide and China’s threat to the UN human rights mechanisms, the UN needs to step up and act in line with its self-pronounced core values. This includes the establishment of an independent HRC mechanism to assess and monitor the ongoing and egregious human rights violations in East Turkistan. Besides the need for concerted action from the UN, it is also up to individual Member States to act upon their commitments to defend human rights, as they are the ones ultimately responsible for the UN’s course of action. 

Ultimately, the international community cannot continue to stand idly by while the Chinese government continues its genocide against the Uyghurs. The CCP has been able to systematically violate fundamental human rights and freedoms of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan with impunity while actively manipulating and undermining the UN human rights system. This presents one of the most serious threats to the UN as an organization founded on the principles of dignity and equality. On its 75th anniversary, the UN can look back on its history with pride, but must not forget its ongoing responsibilities; if no appropriate measures are taken to stop the Uyghur crisis now, this will be remembered as an indelible stain on its record.