Uyghur Congress Applauds Passing of Strong Resolution on the Uyghur Crisis in the European Parliament

Press Release – For immediate release
19 December 2019
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
 
www.uyghurcongress.org
+49 89 5432 1999 or 
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The World Uyghur Congress applauds and is greatly encouraged by the passing of a strong resolution by the European Parliament on the Uyghur crisis, passed by an overwhelming majority. This marks the third time in just over a year that the European Parliament has addressed the crisis in a resolution and demonstrates its and the EU’s resolve to take meaningful action to stop China’s crimes against humanity against Uyghurs.

The passing of this resolution comes a day after Uyghur professor Ilham Tohti was awarded the prestigious Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament for his work. The passing of this resolution and the decision to award Ilham Tohti the Sakharov Prize sends a clear message to the Chinese government that the EU is willing to take concrete steps to close the internment camps and stop the persecution of Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in East Turkistan.

The resolution strongly emphasized a turning point in the EU’s attitude and position on the crisis in East Turkistan. While the EU has been among the loudest voices calling for the camps to be closed, it had yet to take strong and concrete action to realize this goal. The provisions included in this resolution build on the two previous resolutions, giving the EU a strong mandate to take the necessary steps to take meaningful action on this issue.

This resolution echoes previous resolutions in calling for the camps to be closed, the practice of arbitrary detention against Uyghurs to end and urges the Chinese government to publish the names, status and current whereabouts of all those in the camps and otherwise arbitrarily detained. It also calls on the EU to do more to protect Uyghur residents and citizens in EU member states from harassment and intimidation by the Chinese government.

The WUC is very pleased to see this resolution pass and to hear the commitments for the EU to take meaningful and concrete action to end the crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the Uyghur people by the Chinese government.

“We are very encouraged that human rights remain a priority for the European Union and that the Uyghur people have not been abandoned by the international community,” WUC President Dolkun Isa stated. “We look forward to the EU implementing the provisions of this resolution, which would have a real and meaningful impact on ending the suffering of the Uyghur people.

This resolution also expands on previous measures taken by the EU by calling for concrete action in a number of clauses. The resolution calls on European companies to assess their business in East Turkistan and their supply chains to ensure that they were not complicit in the serious human rights violations. It further calls for a ban in European markets for any products made with forced labor. Noting with concern the spread of repressive security and surveillance technology tested in the Uyghur region, the resolution also calls for EU members states and the international community to consider ways of halting all exports and technology transfers of goods and services that are being used by China to extend and improve its cyber surveillance.

Importantly, the resolution welcomes the Council of the EU’s decision to start working to adopt a targeted sanction regime and calls on the Council “to adopt targeted sanctions and asset freezes, should they be deemed appropriate and effective, against the Chinese officials responsible for devising and implementing the policy of mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang and for orchestrating a severe repression.”

This new resolve from the European Parliament to meaningfully address China’s horrific persecution of the Uyghur people was further reflected in the strong statements made by MEPs at a debate on the issue the previous day. MEP Phil Bennion stated, “The European Union needs to demand that the Chinese authorities respect their fundamental rights and freedoms. We should sanction human rights violations. […] We cannot stand by and have normal relations with China while these appalling human rights violations are taking place.”  

MEP Reinhard Bütikofer also focused on the EU taking concrete action and holding European companies accountable, saying, “We call on EU based companies to draw clear red lines. They are running a high reputational risk if they do not implement a robust human rights due diligence system that makes sure they are not implicated in acts of repression […] and we also need an EU human rights sanctions mechanism.”

This resolve to take more action was further echoed by MEP Raphael Glucksmann, who said, “We have broken the silence by granting the Sakharov Prize to Ilham Tohti, but that is not enough. We now have to act. We need sanctions. Sanctions against the Chinese leaders who are directly involved.”

Many other MEPs including Vice President of the EP Fabio Massimo Castaldo, MEPs Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Michael Gahler, Kati Piri, Anna Fotygo, David Lega and many others also made strong statements on the issue.