PRESS RELEASE: THE WUC URGES THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO ACT AS XI JINPING VISITS EAST TURKISTAN
The Chinese President, Xi Jinping visited East Turkistan this week, according to state media on Friday. This is the first visit in eight years since he launched the brutal crackdown against the Uyghur and other Turkic people of East Turkistan.
‘’This visit raises serious concerns, because the last time Xi Jinping visited East Turkistan, he laid out the system that would be responsible for the ongoing Uyghur genocide’’, said WUC President Dolkun Isa in reaction to the visit. ‘’This means even darker days are coming for Uyghurs. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to this.’’
State media reported that Xi Jinping visited different sites from Tuesday through Thursday, including a university and the ‘’Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps’’ also known as the Bingtuan, a paramilitary organization that is responsible for much of the forced labour schemes, and other policies facilitating the genocide. On March 22, 2021, the Bingtuan was blacklisted by the EU, Canada, UK and the U.S. over human rights abuses in East Turkistan.
The launch of the ‘‘Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism’’ in May 2014 was the beginning of the escalation of discriminatory policies, including the mass arbitrary detentions in camps, and the targeting of Uyghurs and other Turkic groups on the basis of their religious and ethnic identity, in the name of ‘countering terrorism. This campaign established the official framework for the implementation of discriminatory and genocidal policies, with the main objective of combating the ‘’Three Evils’’: ethnic separatism, violence terrorism and religious extremism, to establish stability and ‘‘national and ethnic unity’’.
In 2016, the appointment of Chen Quanguo as Party Secretary to the region further escalated the repression of Uyghurs and Turkic groups. Right after his appointment, he gradually built up a sophisticated surveillance system that discriminately targets Uyghurs and Turkic groups, through the ‘Integrated Joint Operations Platform’ (IJOP).
In recent years, the Chinese government has rolled out a large-scale program of forced labour for agriculture, garment, solar and various other industries, including in or around internment camps and prisons in East Turkistan and in workplaces across the country through the labour transfer programs. The Bingtuan administers its own prison system and factories, using prison labour, particularly in cotton harvesting and production.
On March 29, 2021, a group of eight UN Special Procedures, including the Working Group on Business and Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, and on trafficking in persons raised deep concerns about the ‘‘grave human rights abuses’’ related to forced labour of Uyghurs.
Xi Jinping’s visit to the Bingtuan might indicate CCP’s aim to increase the forced labour schemes.
The World Uyghur Congress reiterates the urgent need for the international community to act on the Uyghur genocide. This is no time to engage in ‘’quiet diplomacy’’ and ‘’dialogue’’ with the Chinese government, as was expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in a recent op-ed.
It is high time for tangible actions to be taken, such as effective enforcement of existing laws, such as the recent Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act, and the upcoming Due Diligence Directive of the European Union. It is also necessary to impose sanctions on Chinese officials, and entities who are responsible for carrying out this genocide, as well as to create international mechanisms to hold these perpetrators accountable, including at the United Nations.