PRESS RELEASE: Uyghur Congress Joins Civil Society Calling on UN Chief to Denounce China’s Abuse of Uyghurs
The World Uyghur Congress is calling on United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres along with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights and International Commission of Jurists, in a joint letter released on September 17, 2019, to denounce China’s abuse of Uyghurs.
The letter urges Guterres to “publically and unequivocally” condemn the Chinese government’s abusive policies and to call for the immediate closure of the internment camp system that has been in operation since early 2017.
Uyghur Congress President, Dolkun Isa, said “The Uyghur community continues to grow wary of the effectiveness of the UN system when its chief if not willing to merely express his concern for one of the world’s worst human rights crises.”
The letter goes on to urge the Secretary General not to lend credence to China’s baseless narrative that the camps should be seen in the context of a counter-terrorism campaign, which was negatively reinforced through his own worrying statements and the recent visit by Under Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov.
Thus far, the Secretary General has been said to have conducted quiet diplomacy with Chinese leaders, which has only resulted in further crackdowns. It is clear that China has only responded on the issue when pressure has been exerted by the UN itself, states, NGOs and the general public, which suggests that more public pressure will be necessary to see concrete changes.
Thus far, the Secretary General has gone out of his way to avoid speaking publicly on the subject, despite ongoing and systematic rights violations that many are now calling crimes against humanity.
The arbitrary detention of 1-3 million Uyghurs and Turkic Muslims already stands as a defining issue of the Secretary General’s tenure—how he responds to it will be rightly remembered. The World Uyghur Congress therefore hopes that a positive, constructive response to this joint letter will stand as a first step.