PRESS RELEASE: Thousands to Protest Against Mass Arbitrary Detention of Uyghurs on November 6th in Geneva Switzerland

PRESS RELEASE: Thousands to Protest Against Mass Arbitrary Detention of Uyghurs on November 6th in Geneva Switzerland

Press Release – For immediate release
9 October 2018
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]

At the start of China’s Universal Periodic Review of its human rights record by the UN Human Rights Council, thousands of Uyghurs will hold a large-scale march and static demonstration in Geneva, Switzerland on November 6, 2018. Protesters will meet outside Palais Wilson at 09:00, will march at 10:00 to the Broken Chair where a static demonstration will be held from 11:00-13:00 including speeches from civil society and other leaders.

The protest aims to highlight the abhorrent human rights situation in China, especially the mass arbitrary detention of an estimated one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnicities in internment camps by the Chinese authorities in East Turkistan.

The human rights situation in China has deteriorated dramatically in the last 5 years since Xi Jinping became president, especially for groups that have historically faced persecution, such as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and Southern Mongolians. In almost every aspect the human rights situation has gotten worse. Freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are virtually non-existent, as a series of restrictive laws and policies from the Chinese government have cracked down on these fundamental rights. Human rights defenders have been arbitrarily detained, disappeared or tortured en masse and the families of those who speak out have been punished in acts of reprisals.

Now, over 1 million Uyghurs and ethnic Kazakhs have been placed in arbitrary detention in a series of internment camps across East Turkistan. Starting around April 2017, Uyghurs living in the diaspora started to lose all contact with family members in East Turkistan. It quickly became apparent that Uyghurs were being rounded up by Chinese police and placed into a system of internment camps where they are subjected to political indoctrination aimed at eroding ties to their Uyghur identity and religious beliefs, held in miserable, overcrowded conditions against their will for indefinite periods of time and are subjected to torture and other serious human rights violations. The camp system is one of the largest instances mass arbitrary detention in modern human history and may constitute a crime against humanity.

All those who call for freedom, democracy and their basic rights to be respected in China are under threat and being subjected to serious human rights violations. The very concept of human rights is being attacked by the Chinese government in the UN Human Rights Council and elsewhere, as it attempts to silence any criticism of its human rights record. If such egregious human rights violations such as the arbitrary detention of over 1 million people is met with silence and inaction by the international community, the legitimacy of the human rights system comes into question.

We therefore call on all those who are concerned with human rights in China to join our march and demonstration on November 6th. In particular, we welcome the Tibetan, Southern Mongolian, Hong Kong, Taiwanese, ethnic Kazakhs and Chinese Christian communities to join us on November 6th to highlight the human rights situation in China at the start of its UPR.

The United Nations has already started to raise this situation. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have all expressed deep concern at the situation in East Turkistan and called for action to be taken. Member states must now follow through on those calls and raise the issue substantively during China’s UPR

China’s UPR is a very important occasion to highlight the current human rights crisis in China. Momentum has been building is recent months and the UPR of China presents an important occasion to put China’s serious human rights violations on the centre stage. Now is the time for states to speak up for human rights and human dignity in China. It cannot wait. The fate of the Uyghur people and all those who long for human rights in China is at stake.

Demonstrators are urging on the UN and the International Community to:

  1. Demand that Chinese close the internment camps and immediately release all those held in arbitrary detention.
  2. Reveal the names, whereabouts and current status of all those who have been subjected to enforced disappearance in China.
  3. Demand China cease policies of forced cultural assimilation and social re-engineering focused on the Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians and other groups.
  4. Send independent investigators to the region.
  5. Hold China accountable for its abhorrent human rights record and demand that the basic rights of all people under Chinese control be respected.