WEEKLY BRIEF – 01 April 2021

NEWS

UN Experts Concerned about the Situation of Uyghurs
A group of more than 16 independent UN human rights experts have sent a letter to Chinese and multinational companies, raising deep concerns about ‘the alleged arbitrary detention and forced labour’ of Uyghurs. The letter was in response to information that connected over 150 domestic Chinese and foreign-domiciled companies to serious allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghur workers. The WUC joined civil society organisations welcoming this decision, and urged other actors, such as the International Labour Organisation to break its silence on the matter.
This week, the Guardian reported that according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the UN has begun negotiating with China on unrestricted visit to East Turkistan to investigate the severe human rights violations in the region. So far, the Chinese government has blocked any attempts to send fact-finding-missions to the regions. For any visit to be meaningful, it must be given unfettered access to the Uyghur region, and observers must be able to speak to Uyghur without Chinese interference.

China Separates Uyghur Children from their Parents
CNN has visited a school outside of Istanbul, where Uyghur parents left their children promising they would return, but disappeared upon their return to East Turkistan. The parents were forced to go back to East Turkistan to renew their documents but have been missing since, often for many years. “I’m afraid to not recognize my family, to not remember my family, it’s horrible” said Hassan (15), who has not heard a sign of his parents for four years.

China’s Attack on Uyghurs Living Abroad
Last month, brave Uyghur women spoke out in an interview with BBC about the horrors they endured in China’s internment camps, such as torture, sexual abuse and mass rape. These women are now being systematically harassed and smeared by Chinese authorities in an attempt to silence their voices. Qelbinur Sedik, who spoke out on her experiences in the internment camps, was told by a Chinese police officer on the phone that she “[…] must bear in mind that all your family and relatives are with us. You must think very carefully about that fact”. In recent years, China has become more aggressive in its attempt to silence Uyghurs in the diaspora. Intimidation by phone calls and staged videos with family members are now supplemented by public misogynistic attacks on Uyghur women who spoke out.

Viscose Production Linked to Uyghur Forced Labour
On 28 March, South China Morning Post reported that the supply chains of viscose are tainted with Uyghur Forced labour.  Viscose is made from wood pulp, and is the world’s third most commonly used clothing material. The Uyghur region produces between 10-18% of the world’s viscose; its supply chains are found to be intrinsically linked to entities using Uyghur Forced Labour.

Uyghur Who Appealed Jail Sentence Charged With Additional Crimes
On 31 March, RFA reported that Abdujelil Hajim, a Uyghur businessman, who appealed his prison sentence, has been re-tried and accused of additional “crimes” by the Chinese authorities. The businessman was detained on March 13, 2017 and was sentenced for 14 years in prison and a personal as well as a company fine on the grounds of  “aiding terrorism”. In 2019, he was released from prison because of insufficient evidence, but had to return soon while his case was under review. 

US State Department Labels Atrocities Against Uyghurs as Genocide
This week, the US State Department published its annual report documenting rights violations around the world. The report explicitly stated that China has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs in the past years. In January, the former US administration was the first one determining China’s crimes against Uyghurs as genocide, following the Dutch and the Canadian Parliaments.

Australia Announces New Olympics Uniforms Amid Concerns of Forced Labour

This week, the Australian Olympic Committee unveiled its sportswear for their athletes, which is provided by ASICS. The same company has faced backlash last week, as they were caught up in a boycott storm by Chinese consumers, and chose to promote ”Xinjiang Cotton” amid credible evidence of Uyghur forced labour. Companies are now facing the ultimate test: choose money or human rights?

Participate

Demonstration in Ingolstadt
On April 3, the World Uyghur Congress together with Aktionsbündnis „Ingolstadt für die Wahrung der Menschenrechte der Uiguren“ will hold a demonstration calling on the government of Bavaria and Audi to close the Audi-Konfuzius-Institute-Ingolstadt.