PRESS RELEASE: The WUC Alarmed at Extreme COVID Measures in East Turkistan
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is alarmed at the extreme COVID-related measures implemented by the Chinese government in East Turkistan and urges the Chinese government to repeal these policies. In recent weeks, numerous videos were posted on Chinese social media by Uyghurs showing the strict policies that denied them medical care and prevent them from getting food, leading them to starve and in some cases, to death.
Different media outlets have reported the strict COVID policies that were being implemented throughout China, including forced medication, detentions and starvation.
‘’We have been seeing numerous videos posted online, and it is extremely difficult to watch and not be able to offer any humanitarian help,’’ said WUC President Dolkun Isa. ‘’We appeal to the international community to stop the ongoing atrocities.’’
In the videos, Uyghurs can be clearly heard and seen in an incredibly difficult situation, seeking medical attention, and appealing to the government to let them out and provide them with food to feed their children. Screenshots of message exchanges on WeChat can also be seen, where residents complain about starvation and the lack of assistance from the local authorities. The current policies seem to indicate that residents are de facto under house arrest, as the government uses the pandemic as justification.
The WUC raises deep concern about the consequences of these harsh policies, resulting in starvation and other severe health-related issues, particularly for vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly. Today, the UN Disability Rights Committee has raised deep concern about the situation of Uyghurs in camps, with particular regard to individuals with disabilities: ‘’The Committee is concerned about the lack of independent assessments of the human rights situation of persons with disabilities in China, especially in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region […]”.
The Chinese government has continued its discrimination against the Uyghurs and other Turkic people in its implementation of COVID-19 measures. In early 2020, during the first outbreak of the virus, the government transferred en masse Uyghur workers to Chinese provinces to engage them in forced labour, with little to no regard for Uyghur lives.
The WUC calls on the Chinese government to repeal the harsh COVID-related measures and demands that the Chinese government release all Uyghurs who are being detained arbitrarily and offer medical help as well as provide food. The WUC call on the international community to urgently intervene and calls on international organisations such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Momvement, UNICEF and other humanitarian bodies to investigate and offer humanitarian help to the Uyghurs and other Turkic people in East Turkistan.