PRESS RELEASE: WUC Calls on German Government to Raise Uyghur Crisis at EU-China Summit in Leipzig

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

As Germany prepares to host the EU-China Summit in Leipzig in September 2020, the WUC calls on the German government and Angela Merkel to use its influence to put the current crisis in East Turkistan and the serious human rights violations against Uyghurs at the top of the agenda. The EU and Germany must send a strong message to the Chinese government that respect for human rights is non-negotiable for the EU and that business as usual cannot continue with a government actively committing atrocities and cultural genocide.

The EU-China Summit in Leipzig is set to be the first meeting between the leadership of the EU and the Chinese government, after the annual EU-China Summit scheduled for April 2020 was postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. While the Leipzig Summit was convened to focus on trade and climate issues, these cannot be taken in isolation from the human rights catastrophe in China. Human rights cannot be set to the side while atrocities are being committed by the Chinese government against Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and Chinese citizens. Especially given the fact that the annual EU-China Summit has been postponed, the Summit in Leipzig will now set the tone for the future of EU-China relations. It is pivotal that leaders in the EU and in member states do not miss this opportunity to put human rights and human dignity at the centre of its relations with China. 

The WUC would like to thank political groups and German parliamentarians who have recently taken a series of steps to demand that the Uyghur crisis and human rights in China be made a priority in the Leipzig Summit. In March 2020, the German Green Party (Bündnis 90/di Grünen) sent a list of important parliamentary questions to the German government on their response and handling of the Uyghur crisis, while also highlighting areas where improvement or more meaningful action is need by the German government, or in cooperation with the European Union. In the list of questions, the Green Party asked the German government to make the current crisis in East Turkistan as a main topic of discussion at the upcoming Summit. Margeret Bause, a parliamentarian from the Green Party, was quoted saying Germany should use its “weight” within the EU to broach China’s “systematic human rights abuses, repression, total surveillance and censorship.” 

The WUC also appreciates the motion published by the German Liberal Party FDP in the Bundestag. It included fourteen points calling for the German government to take concrete action to address serious human rights violations in China, especially the crisis in East Turkistan. The statement also called on the German government to actively address the human rights violations committed in East Turkistan and persecution of anti-regime activists at the EU-China 2020 summit in Leipzig.

The WUC is grateful the Green Party and the Liberal Party for their initiatives and calls on the remaining political parties in Germany to articulate similar concerns and make it clear to the German government that Chinese government’s disregard for human rights and brutal repression of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hong Kongers and Han Chinese must not be ignored during EU-China Leipzig Summit. 

The situation in East Turkistan is only getting worse and the suffering of the Uyghur people is growing. An estimated 1.5-3 million Uyghurs remain have been detained in internment camps for over three years and the Uyghur people are being denied their most basic rights and freedoms. Tens of thousands of Uyghurs are now being transferred to factories around China and Uyghur forced labour is now being used in the supply chains of many Western (and German companies) with a presence in China. It is impossible to discuss trade and the economy while ignoring the horrific reality for millions of innocent people in China who are involved in these processes.

The WUC implores German and EU officials not to miss this important opportunity to push the Chinese government to stop its crimes against humanity. Human rights are not something that can be put to the side or separated from discussion on trade, climate and the economy, they are an essential component that must be actively considered at every opportunity. Silent diplomacy and the sidelining of human rights to discussion in the UN or the EU-China Human Rights dialogue have not resulted in a meaningful change in China’s treatment of the Uyghur people and disdain for human rights. The EU-China Summit in Leipzig stands as a moment where EU and German leaders make it clear to the Chinese government that it will not stand idly by while crimes against humanity are being committed.