PRESS RELEASE: WUC Calls for EU to Address Uyghur Genocide During EU-China Summit

Press Release– For immediate release
14 September 2020
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
+49 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]

As leaders of the EU and the Chinese government meet today, Monday, September 14th, in a virtual meeting replacing the planned EU-China Summit, the WUC calls on the EU to make a strong and principled stand in light of China’s genocide against the Uyghur people and human rights violations against Tibetans, Mongolians, Hong Kongers and Han Chinese activists and lawyers. The EU must not conduct business as usual with a Chinese government complicit in genocide and other atrocities. The WUC urges the EU and EU member states to use this opportunity to take concrete action to end the Uyghur genocide and hold the Chinese government accountable.

While the WUC is grateful to the EU for publicly raising the Uyghur crisis on a number of occasions in the past, this has little impact on the behaviour of the Chinese government and the situation for the Uyghur people has continued to deteriorate. In the past 3 years, 1-3 million Uyghurs have been detained in camps, Uyghur women have been sterilized in an attempt to diminish the Uyghur population, Uyghurs have been subjected to forced labour and modern slavery, Uyghur language has been banned in many schools and prefectures, every the most basic expressions of religious sentiment have been criminalized, Uyghur mosques, shrines, graveyards and homes have been destroyed, children have been taken away from their families and the CCP has sought to eradicate the Uyghur identity and forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people. The number of atrocities the Uyghur people have been forced to endure is heartbreaking and fits the definition of genocide under the UN Genocide Convention.

Such horrific atrocities necessitate a robust and coordinated response from the EU and the international community. Despite the severity of the crisis, which meets the UN definition for genocide, increasingly strong rhetoric on the crisis has not been met with action. The Chinese government has committed to the indivisibility and universality of human rights and promised to meet its human rights obligations, but has failed to live up to these promises and commitments. Instead, it has only expanded and intensified its genocidal campaign against Uyghurs. If anything is to change, the EU needs a more robust and action-oriented approach. We cannot keep taking the same actions and expecting a different outcome.

The EU now has the opportunity to make a principled stand and enact real change to address this tragedy. We call on the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyden, President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and German Chancellor Merkel to substantively and meaningfully raise the Uyghur crisis and other human rights issues in their discussions with Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders at today virtual EU-China Summit. We call on these leaders to demand that China stop its genocide of Uyghurs and other human rights violations and to honor its human rights obligations in order to have normal relations with China.

This is a critical moment, as the EU has significant leverage to push for China to change its behaviour and abide by international norms and standards. China needs the EU, and the EU and Germany need to use this opportunity to stop the Uyghur genocide.

Now is the time to reassess the EU’s relationship with China, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU must ensure that there are consequences if China fails to stop its atrocities or meet its human rights obligations. 

“Now is the time for the EU to make important and tough decisions and hold China accountable for the Uyghur genocide,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa. “Despite the EU’s expressions of concern, China’s behaviour has not changed and the suffering of the Uyghur people has only increased. The EU must use this opportunity to ensure there are consequences for the Chinese government’s atrocities.”

The EU has an important opportunity to take real and meaningful action to address the Uyghur crisis and put pressure on the Chinese government. The EU and the world cannot continue to appease or continue normal relations with the Chinese government. If action is not taken, the Uyghurs as a unique people could disappear forever. The EU must show its commitment to human rights not only in words, but also in action.

The WUC is therefore calling on EU leaders to:

  1. Substantively raise the Uyghur genocide and other human rights violations in discussions at the virtual EU-China Summit and in future discussions.
  2. Insist that any signing of the EU-China Investment agreement be conditional on China stopping its genocide against Uyghurs and meeting its human rights obligations.
  3. Use appropriate terminology in describing the Uyghur crisis to capture the severity and scale of the systemic human rights violations.