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PRESS RELEASE:  World Uyghur Congress Calls for Concrete Actions by Australia

PRESS RELEASE:  World Uyghur Congress Calls for Concrete Actions by Australia

Press Release – For Immediate Release 
19 March 2024 
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
+49 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]

On March 20, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, will travel to Australia to meet with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, marking the first high-level visit from Beijing in nearly seven years. The two foreign ministers will participate in the 7th Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue, focusing on discussions regarding human rights and regional security matters.

“The Australian government has historically approached its relations with China cautiously. It is therefore concerning to witness the warming of Australian-Chinese relations at this time,” expressed World Uyghur Congress President, Dolkun Isa. “This is an opportunity for Minister Penny Wong to hold China accountable with concrete actions, not merely with empty statements.”

Australia has previously raised concerns about Beijing’s human rights abuses, particularly after the conclusion by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) that the ongoing atrocities and human rights abuses in East Turkistan “may amount to international crimes, in particular, crimes against humanity”. Recently, during China’s 4th cycle Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Australia also raised its grave concerns on the violations against Uyghurs. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has also expressed support for Uyghur human rights, but also denied a meeting between her and a global Uyghur delegation, which also included the WUC, back in 2022.

As Chinese-Australian relations tighten, the World Uyghur Congress calls on the Australian government to prioritise human rights in its dialogue with China. Merely raising concerns is not enough when engaging with a government that is committing genocide, particularly with a sizeable Uyghur community in Australia. Concrete actions are needed, including applying Magnitsky-style sanctions on those Chinese government officials responsible for human rights abuses and genocide against Uyghurs, and supporting the creation of a UN Special Rapporteur on China to report on and investigate the human rights situation in the country. To date, the Australian government has not officially recognized Uyghurs as victims of genocide and has taken relatively fewer measures to protect Uyghur refugees and other communities from China’s transnational repression.