Press Release: WUC Welcomes UN Experts’ Communication on Uyghur Report
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) welcomes the latest communication issued by a group of 25 UN Special Procedure mandate-holders. The experts expressed their deep concerns about the grave human rights abuses taking place in East Turkistan and welcomed and supported the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) findings in its recently published report on the situation in the region.
‘’In the past few years, UN special procedures have played a key role in documenting the severe abuses in our homeland,’’ said WUC President Dolkun Isa. ‘’It is now up to the governments and other international bodies to follow suit with actions.’’
The experts expressed particular concerns on the widespread misuse of counter-terrorrism laws and policies implemented by the Chinese government. The statement mentions that China’s policies have limited the ‘’legitimate exercise’’ of people’s most fundamental rights, including freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to privacy, among many others.
The group further called for the creation of a monitoring mechanism on China, the creation of a special envoy by the General Assembly or the Secretary-General and urged governments and UN agencies and businesses in their bilateral dialogues to demand China to respect human rights.
In recent years, UN experts have increasingly documented grave violations targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic people in East Turkistan. In August 2018, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) first reported the arbitrary detention of “up to a million” Uyghurs. Since then, various UN treaty bodies and Special Procedures have raised their profound concerns about the human rights situation in the region.
In June 2020, an unprecedented group of 50 UN experts called for “decisive measures” to protect fundamental freedoms in China. More recently, on June 10th, 42 Special Procedures experts reiterated the need for an independent assessment of the situation on the ground.
Today, as the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to appoint Mr. Volker Turk as the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, the WUC hopes to see the new High Commissioner firmly and consistently advocating for human rights around the globe, as articulated by NGOs in two joint letters.
In light of the recent OHCHR report’s findings, the World Uyghur Congress reiterates its call on the international community to act and strongly recommends:
- The UN Human Rights Council to take up the issue in a Special Session or Urgent Debate with the aim of establishing a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to independently examine the treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples;
- The UN Special Procedures to consider evidence presented in the report and respond with recommendations for the UN and the international community;
- The UN Office on Genocide Prevention to immediately conduct an assessment of the risks of atrocities—including genocide and crimes against humanity—targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, and to alert relevant actors and advocate for a proportionate response;
- The ILO to take note of the report, include additional evidence of forced labour in its Committee of Experts annual report, and for delegates at the International Labour Conference to lodge a complaint against China for failure to uphold its obligations;
- UNESCO to urgently investigate cases of destruction or marginalisation of natural and cultural heritage, including UNESCO-listed heritage (Muqam, Karez well system, Manas, Meshrep, and the Tianshan mountain range);
- The global business community to immediately cut all ties with entities assisting the government to carry out the atrocities, especially the programs of high-tech surveillance and state-imposed forced labour; and
Governments and international organisations to take urgent steps to protect Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples at imminent risk of refoulement, in line with a recent joint statement from 22 refugee and human rights groups and 50 Uyghur organisations.