Weekly Brief, 15 September

Weekly Brief, 15 September

NEWS

World Uyghur Congress Condemns Arbitrary Detention of Dr. Gulshan Abbas
On September 12, the World Uyghur Congress issued a public statement on the 5th anniversary of Dr. Gulshan Abbas’ enforced disappearance by the CCP. Dr. Abbas, who is a retired medical doctor, was disappeared and arbitrarily detained in 2018. In March 2019 it was reported that she was sentenced to 20 years in prison, convicted of “participating in a terrorist organisation”, “aiding terrorist activities”, and “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order”. Her disappearance is believed to be a reprisal against her sister Rushan Abbas’s activism and follows a harrowing pattern of enforced disappearances of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan since 2017. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) found in their 2022 opinion that Dr. Abbas is a victim of enforced disappearances likely because of her foreign connections outside of China. According to the most recent reports published by the WUC affiliate organisation UZDM, the Sheffield University and Safeguard Defenders, Uyghurs living abroad experience direct threats to their family members back in East Turkistan. Enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention are being used to silence Uyghur activists from speaking out against China’s ongoing  genocide.

“The Chinese government is using our families to pressure us into silence. Uyghurs who choose to speak about China’s crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs are paying a heavy price”, said World Uyghur Congress President, Dolkun Isa. 

World Uyghur Congress Announces #WritersSupportUyghurs Campaign
On September 13, the WUC issued a press release  announcing an online panel featuring several award-winning and bestselling authors on Tuesday, October 17th, 2023 in response to the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) being held in China. Making matters worse, the organization has invited Liu Cixin and Sergei Lukyanenko to attend as “guests of honor.” Both writers have been outspoken in favor of genocidal policies, with Liu saying that the genocidal policies are a justifiable form of “economic development” and Lukyanenko calling for Ukrainian children to be drowned. Despite numerous concerns and calls for boycott by science fiction fans, journalists and authors, Worldcon is going ahead. Together with Andrew Gillsmith, author of the bestselling novel Our Lady of the Artilects and organizer of the #WritersSupportUyghurs campaign, the WUC will draw attention to the human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in East Turkistan during the panel.

“We are grateful for this support from the science fiction and literary communities,” said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress. “Our goal is not to disrupt Worldcon but to ensure that coverage of the event includes the facts about an ongoing genocide being perpetrated by the host country.” 

UK Government Set to Ban Chinese Surveillance Technology from Sensitive Government Sites
On September 13, the UK government announced that Chinese surveillance equipment will be banned from government buildings and military bases. The final decision is a result of a joint campaign, led by different UK-based organisations, including the WUC London Office. In an interview with hyphen, the WUC UK-Director, Rahima Mahmut, talked about the success of her campaigning against Chinese surveillance technology in the UK: “Many government departments also declared that they are going to replace them with different brands, not only because these cameras pose a security risk, but also because the surveillance company’s cameras were used to catch Uyghurs attempting to escape Xinjiang”. The parliament’s decision comes after the Telegraph reported that a parliamentary researcher was caught spying and infiltrating the UK Parliament, allegedly acting on behalf of China. The UK national had close links to Conservative MPs, Tom Tugendhat, the UK Security Minister and Alicia Kearns, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. 

Prior to the UK parliament announcement, one of the leading UK supermarkets, the Co-op, declared that it will remove all Hikvision CCTV cameras over ethical and security concerns. The Co-op is now the fifth largest food retailer in the UK after Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons and Iceland, to prohibit the use of Chinese surveillance cameras.

The State of Uyghur Villages in Yarkant, East Turkistan
Last Friday, France 24 reported on the recent travel of Agence France Press (AFP) reporters to four Uyghur-majority villages in Yarkant, East Turkistan to find out about the fate of Uyghurs who were detained by Chinese authorities and sent to concentration camps. Based on Adrian Zenz’s “Xinjiang Police Files”, the AFP visited the village of Abduqahar Ebeydulla, who disappeared in 2016 and three other villages, were houses were found locked and some appeared to be neglected or abandoned. The AFP team furthermore reported being followed by unmarked cars, chased out by locals and permitted from taking pictures. Despite the Chinese authorities continuously claiming that the concentration camps have been “decommissioned”, the AFP discovered detention facilities, which continue to operate, surrounded by guards, security cameras and barbed wire.

New Report on Uyghur Forced Labour by the Uyghur Rights Monitor
On September 11, the Uyghur Rights Monitor revealed its newest report on the current situation of Uyghur forced labour in East Turkistan. Outlining key takeaways and summarizing existing research, the report furthermore explores the structures of forced labour and the Chinese state agencies behind state-imposed forced labour transfer programs. The research sheds light on the pervasive nature of forced-labour coercion and what happens when people choose to not participate. People who refuse to be involved in labour transfers, are labelled as terrorists, separatists or extremist, and risk being detained and imprisoned.

PARTICIPATE

Join the #WritersSupportUyghurs Campaign
The World Uyghur Congress will host an online panel featuring several award-winning and bestselling authors on Tuesday, October 17th, 2023, in response to the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in China. More information and how to join the #WritersSupportUyghurs Campaign can be found here.

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.