Press Release: WUC Strongly Condemns Coerced Statements of Uyghurs
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) strongly condemns the Chinese government’s use of hostage diplomacy through forced TV confessions of Uyghurs in East Turkistan.
This week, the Chinese government announced on its state television, CGTN, the release of ‘’The War in the Shadows’’, a new 60-minute documentary on its fight against ‘’terrorism’’ in East Turkistan. In the preview, it highlights the case of a few Uyghurs who were sentenced with “Two-Faced”, “separatism” and ‘’terrorism’’ related charges and some police officers. The Uyghurs are seemingly forced to repent for their past mistakes. On the other hand, the public officers are praising the Chinese government’s approach in fighting terrorism and legitimising its current approach on the matter.
‘’I am not surprised that the Chinese government continues to coerce people and manipulate them in order to deliver their own message. They did it to me many times over the years, going as far as filming my family members and forcing them to discredit my human rights advocacy and defame me. It is through a coerced statement by my sister that I learned the death of my father, last year’’, said WUC President, Dolkun Isa.
The video features individuals such as Sattar Sawut and Alimjan Memtimin, both former Deputy Director-General of the Xinjiang Education Department, as well as Shehide Yusup and Suriya Mirhadam, editors at the Xinjiang Education Publishing House. It is clear that the individuals are being used to condone the government’s discriminatory policies against Uyghurs.
Over the past few years, many prominent Uyghur scholars and academics have been labelled as ‘’Two-Faced’’ individuals, leading to their disappearance and internment in camps. A recent example is the former President of Xinjiang University, Tashpolat Tiyip who was removed from his position in 2017, as part of the Chinese government’s campaign targeting ‘’Two-Faced’’ Uyghurs who stray from or who are not fully committed to the Chinese Communist Party’s doctrine. Tiyip’s whereabouts remain unknown.
The coerced videos featuring Uyghurs are yet another way for the Chinese government to control the narrative with the aim to combat terrorism, extremism and separatism, which it says constitute the evil ‘’Three Forces’’. These videos are often used to discredit the claims of activists, governments, human rights organisations, witnesses and independent experts speaking up on the human rights situation in East Turkistan.
The cruelty in using someone’s family member or friend as a mouthpiece for the state, to threaten and silence activists abroad and to legitimise the country’s unlawful counter-terrorism campaign must be firmly condemned by the international community.
By doing this, China has breached several international standards, including article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and article 17 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which protect against arbitrary interference with the privacy, family, home or correspondence and attacks upon the honour and reputation of an individual.
An increasing number of independent UN experts are speaking up on the maltreatment of Uyghurs. In 2019, a dozen of UN experts, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights stated in a letter to the Chinese government that the Counter-Terrorism Law’s measures were ‘’neither necessary nor proportionate’’ with the objective of combating terrorism.
The WUC once again reiterates its firm opposition to coerced videos and statements of Uyghurs in East Turkistan. The current highly repressive environment does not allow Uyghurs in East Turkistan or in China to freely express their views, without the fear of retaliation from the government. Following the recent sanctions imposed by China by a coalition of states, it is clear that the Chinese government is trying to control any dissident voice, anywhere, more than ever.
The international community must continue to reject these groundless attacks on freedom of expression and public debate on the Uyghur genocide, and condemn hostage diplomacy exercised on Uyghurs.