WEEKLY BRIEF: 07 FEBRUARY
World Uyghur Congress, 07 February 2020
On 05 February 2020, The World Uyghur Congress has called to protest in major cities in commemoration of the 23rd year of the Ghulja Massacre. Uyghurs joined the demonstration organized by The East Tukistan Union in Europe to protest in front of the General Consulate of China in Munich. Protests were held in London, Washington DC, Montreal (I would add more cities).
On February 5, 1997, thousands of Uyghurs gathered for a peaceful demonstration in the Ili prefecture city of Ghulja in East Turkistan in response to continued Chinese aggression and the prohibition of Uyghur social organizations, known as Mäshräp, from gathering for cultural events. The protests were immediately quashed by Chinese security forces leaving at least 100 dead and many more injured. Nearly 4000 would be arrested and of those, 200 would subsequently face the death penalty.
Uyghur Congress President, Dolkun Isa, said of the incident, “The Ghulja Massacre was one of several serious incidents that preceded and contributed to the horrific situation we are now facing.”The date remains a watershed moment in terms of the treatment of Uyghurs in East Turkistan by the Chinese government, and foreshadowed the persecution that would last for years afterwards.
The number of people who got infected by the coronavirus is increasing dramatically every day. The virus, which was first reported in Wuhan, is still far from being contained. On 7 February 2020, 31,494 people were infected worldwide and 638 cases resulted in death. In East Turkistan 39 cases were officially reported.
According to reports published by Radio Free Asia, China treats the coronavirus in the Uyghur region as a state secret. As we have seen in Wuhan, censorship and putting the interests of the CCP above the lives of people has allowed the coronavirus to become a full blown pandemic and has costs hundreds of lives already. China’s censorship puts the life of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in grave danger.
Uyghurs detained in internment camps are especially at risk of being infected and dying from the coronavirus because of weakness from malnutrition, the unhygienic conditions of the camps and the physical, mental and sexual abuse that detainees are subjected to. “For Uyghurs and other persecuted groups in China’s mass detention camps, access to hospitals, quarantine areas, adequate nutrition, hygiene products, and other necessities for healthy living are severely restricted”, criticized Munawwar Abdulla in her article for The Diplomat. In order to contain the coronavirus, the international community must send an independent investigation to evaluate the spread of the coronavirus in East Turkistan, push China to close the detention camps and to send medical equipment to the Uyghur region
Report of the German Federal Foreign Office
An unofficial report of the German Federal Foreign Office, which was published on 22 December 2019, describes the situation in the Uyghur region as “alarming”. This secret report was now available to journalists form NDR, WDR, “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “Deutsche Welle”. It lists human rights violations committed by the Chinese government such as “complete digital control and surveillance, arbitrary arrests, clans liability, massive restrictions on the practice of religion, mass internment of probably over 1 million people, DNA recordings, ideological indoctrination”.
Sonny B Williams
Rugby star Sonny B. Williams told SkyNews in a recent interview that he had been a longtime supporter of the Uyghurs, who are detained in internment camps. “They are in the detention camps over there and facing disgusting injustices,” he said. “For myself, I just speak my truth. Sometimes I get it wrong but in this instance I definitely know I’m not.” The WUC is encouraged to see athletes like Sonny B Williams and Mesud Özil condemning China over its crackdown on Uyghurs.
State of the Union Address
On 04 February 2020, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio invited Uyghur human rights activist Rushan Abbas as his guest to President Trump’s State of the Union Address. On that same day Ms. Rushan testified at the joint hearing “Ending Global Religious Persecution”, hosted by the US Foreign Affairs Committee’s Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights Subcommittee & the Oversight and Reform Committee’s Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Subcommittee.
Furthermore this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Kazakhstan on Sunday to join Washington in pressing Beijing over its treatment of Uyghurs and asked them to provide safe refuge and asylum to those seeking to flee China.