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Weekly Brief, 14 July 2023

Weekly Brief, 14 July 2023


Elie Wiesel Foundation Grants Committee selects the World Uyghur Congress, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and Jewish World Watch
The World Uyghur Congress is honored to receive a grant from the Elie Wiesel Foundation along with the Uyghur Human Rights Project and the Jewish World Watch. The three organisations plan to hold a conference in New York this winter to provide a platform to Uyghur human rights defenders, civil society representatives, scholars, legal experts, government representatives, policymakers, and other relevant stakeholders. The conference’s theme will be the international response to the Uyghur genocide to foster collaboration, reflect on existing strands of Uyghur activism, and inspire participants to explore new avenues for engagement. Another selected grantee is the Ana Care & Education Project which aims to preserve the Uyghur language, history, and culture by providing school-based learning for students and keeping the Uyghur identity strong in the diaspora.

Germany Releases Long-Awaited China Strategy
On July 13, the German government released its new China strategy, which is currently pending approval by the German parliament. The strategy is intended to redefine Germany’s relationship with China and clarify its dealings with the country more clearly. In it, the German government pledges to uphold human rights and supports a ban on products made from Uyghur forced labour at the EU policy level.

However, as criticised by the WUC, the language pertaining to serious human rights violations against Uyghurs has been watered down considerably from the draft with the ground-breaking finding by the OHCHR report (31 August 2022), which states that the Chinese government may be committing crimes against humanity, against the Uyghurs not even mentioned. The German authorities should engage in meaningful actions to implement the strategy, which includes consistently enforcing the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act and holding China accountable for the genocide of the Uyghurs and other Turkic people in the region. The World Uyghur Congress and a coalition of NGOs based in Germany have pushed for a strategy centred around human rights. 

VW’s Decision to Perform Audit at Urumchi Plant is Met with Investor Doubts

On June 21, the Volkswagen Group announced that it will pursue an “independent audit” of its plant in East Turkistan. However, as noted by the WUC before, it is very unlikely that the company’s auditing team will be able to visit the factory without any prior notification and speak with workers without them being subjected to severe reprisals. In an open letter dated 11 July, the Ethical Shareholders (“Dachverband Kritische Aktionäre”) shared their concerns with VW regarding the efficiency of an audit. The letter argued that the political crackdown on Uyghurs in the region makes collecting valid information on-site impossible. In addition, experts have warned that the recent aggravation of the counterintelligence law may be used by the authorities to criminalise the due diligence duties and processes businesses have to comply with. In addition, the Ethical Shareholders highlighted serious evidence of forced labour in VW’s supply chains, as documented in a report by Sheffield-Hallam University and NomoGaia.

Canadian Ombudsman Launched Investigations Against Nike Canada and Gold Mining Company for Using Uyghur Forced Labour
On July 12, the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) – a business and human rights dispute resolution mechanism established by Canada’s government- started investigating Nike Canada and Dynasty Gold after receiving a joint complaint from a coalition of human rights groups. In response to the investigation, both companies claimed they are no longer linked to companies that use Uyghur forced labour. However, the watchdog stated that there is no indication that Nike Canada Corp has taken concrete steps to ensure that forced labour is not used in their supply chain. The group of activists referred to findings in a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and a report by Sheffield Hallam University to support the allegations against Nike. According to the complainants, they contacted Nike in November 2021 to inquire about the company’s conduct of human rights due diligence standards to ensure it wasn’t benefitting from Uyghur forced labour.

The World Uyghur Congress stands in solidarity with Nathan Law
The World Uyghur Congress stands in solidarity with the family of Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Nathan Law, who has been in exile in the UK since 2020. According to local media, on July 11, Mr. Law’s parents and one of his siblings were taken away by Hong Kong police for questioning. Before the raid, the authorities issued a HK$ 1m reward for arresting him and seven other prominent Hong Kong human rights defenders. Moreover, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee, stated during a media briefing that local authorities will “pursue them for life” and will go after all the support they receive and even control them. 

In response to the developments, WUC President Dolun Isa commented: “I urge the international community to take immediate action to ensure their protection and take stringent measures to end China’s transnational repression. Democratic countries must stand for human rights, justice, and the protection of their citizens.” The WUC stands in unwavering solidarity with Nathan Law, his family, the other seven Hong Kong activists affected by the issuance of the bounty, and all Hongkongers facing persecution by China.


Help the World Uyghur Congress Establish an Uyghur Cultural-Centre
The World Uyghur Congress is raising funds to establish an Uyghur Cultural-Centre in Munich; a dedicated space where the Uyghur community and everyone interested in the Uyghur culture can come together to learn and preserve the rich Uyghur cultural heritage. With the generous support and help of the Uyghur community worldwide, we have already achieved 80 % of the total amount needed to purchase the necessary facilities. Your support can help us to get the final 20 %. Please donate and share! 

Ask Volkswagen to Close its Plant in East Turkistan
Despite growing evidence of the ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs, Volkswagen continues to operate in East Turkistan. The World Uyghur Congress is collecting signatures to demand Volkswagen to close down its plant in Urumqi. Please sign here!

Support Uyghurs’ Genocide & Crimes Against Humanity Case in Argentina
The World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Human Rights Project have launched a criminal case in the courts of Argentina in relation to the international crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity being committed against the Uyghur people. Please donate and be a part of this historic case.