Weekly Brief, 08 January 2021

NEWS

WUC Welcomes Marks & Spencers’ Commitment to Call to Action against Uyghur Forced Labour
On the 7th of January, the World Uyghur Congress, as part of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, shared a press release in which the Coalition welcomed the decision of British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer to sign the Coalition’s Call to Action. The company publicly announced its formal commitment to cut all ties with suppliers implicated in Uyghur forced labour and to ban any sourcing from the Uyghur Region, from cotton to finished garments. While the Coalition welcomed the decision of Marks & Spencer, it simultaneously called upon other companies to do the same and undertake real action to ensure they are not profiting from Uyghur forced labour.

Coalition Urges US to Do More to Ensure Release of Disappeared Uyghur in East Turkistan
On January 4th, The Guardian reported that a coalition of Harvard University schools and student groups has urged the U.S. government to do more to demand China release a Uyghur man who was jailed for 15 years after participating in a state department exchange program. In another example of Chinese authorities arbitrarily detaining Uyghurs who have (visited) family abroad, Ekpar Asat disappeared in 2016 after returning from the US where he had been on the exchange program and visited his sister Rayhan, a Harvard law student.

Germany’s Push to Conclude EU-China Investment Agreement Draws EU Countries’ Criticism
On January 4th, Politico reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strong push to conclude the EU-China deal in the last days of 2020 has drawn criticism from a group of EU countries who said they felt ignored. Chancellor Merkel’s push to hastily conclude the Agreement shows Germany’s economic dependence on China’s market, in particular for its automobile industry. The WUC has repeatedly called upon Germany to stop putting economic considerations over Uyghur human rights, and instead make trade deals dependent on China respecting its human rights obligations.

China Sentences Uyghur to 20 years in Prison for the Activism of US-Based Family
On January 4th, The Washington Post covered the story of the 20-year prison sentence handed to Gulshan Abbas, in retaliation for her families’ activism in the United States on the Uyghur crisis. According to the Washington Post, the harsh sentence indicates China’s increasingly aggressive activities in its efforts to shut down foreign critics, including in the United States and other Western democracies.

The Grave Implications of the Turkey-China Extradition Treaty for Uyghurs in Turkey
On the 5th of January, the Research Observer Foundation published an article in which it examined the consequences of the Turkey-China extradition treaty for the Uyghur community in Turkey. China has recently ratified the treaty, and it is now up to the Turkish Parliament to do the same to put it into effect. For Uyghurs in Turkey, the treaty – if ratified by Turkey – would lend itself to China as yet another instrument to crack down on and forcibly return Uyghurs abroad. Turkey has an obligation under international law, and according to the principle of non-refoulement, to refrain from forcibly returning Uyghur to China, where they are at grave risk of extralegal detainment, torture, mental and physical abuse, and other forms of severe maltreatment.

Uyghur Poet and Literature Teacher Confirmed to Be Detained
On January 7th, Radio Free Asia reported that Qasim Sidiq, a well-known Uyghur poet and literature teacher who went missing in East Turkistan in 2017 has been confirmed detained. According to Chinese authorities, the poems and songs of Sidiq provided “evidence” of “inciting ethnic hatred”. These allegations are in line with the Chinese authorities’ approach to Uyghur expressions of their distinct cultural and religious identity, of which nearly all everyday and lawful expressions have been criminalized.

PARTICIPATE

Tell Zara: Stop Profiting From Uyghur Forced Labour
Spanish-based retailer Zara, among many giant corporations companies, claims to prohibit forced labour in its supply chains, yet offers no credible explanation as to how it can do this considering their links to East Turkistan where all goods are likely to be tainted by forced labour. By continuing to operate in and maintaining links to the region, fashion brands like these are complicit in what many have widely recognized as crimes against humanity. Please sign the petition here!

Supporters in the UK, Write your MP to Write to Demand no Trade Deals with Genocidal States
Governments should not sign trade deals with regimes that are committing genocide. To ensure the U.K. places human rights above trade, the Genocide Amendment is essential. The amendment also enables to U.K. courts to judge that the crime of genocide has happened. Find out how you can write your MP here!