WEEKLY BRIEF, 18 DECEMBER 2020

NEWS

WUC Webinar “Uyghur Rights: One Year after Ilham Tohti’s Sakharov Prize
On December 18, the WUC hosted a webinar to discuss what has changed since the 2019 Sakharov Prize was awarded to Ilham Tohti for his advocacy for Uyghur rights. The panel speakers included MEPs Marie Arena, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Bernard Guetta, former MEP Phil Bennion, Sinologist Marie Holzman, Yaxue Cao, Founder and editor of China Change, and former MEP Assistants Sophie Sohm and Burak Yusmak.

The speakers all highlighted that more needs to be done by the European Union, its member states, and the international community to end the Uyghur genocide. In this light, the situation of Ilham Tohti stands for many other human rights abuses in China and cannot be seen in isolation.

Urgency Resolution on Uyghur Forced Labour in the European Parliament
On December 17, the European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution on ‘forced labour and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’, which was passed by an overwhelming majority. This marks the fourth time in just over two years that the European Parliament addresses the Uyghur crisis in a resolution. Though the WUC welcomes the continuing resolve of the European Union (EU) to speak out, the urgency of the situation for the Uyghur people in East Turkistan, which has worsened dramatically since the last resolution in 2019, demands that the EU now puts its words into action to stop the Uyghur genocide. 

Chinese Tech Titan Alibaba Developed Facial Recognition Software to Detect Uyghurs
On December 17, the New York Times reported that the Chinese technology giant Alibaba developed a software for its cloud service, which helps its clients to detect the faces of Uyghurs. This discriminatory software has been detected by the surveillance industry publication IPVM. Alibaba is not the only Chinese technology giant which developed a program to send an ‘Uyghur alert’. Last week, the Washington Post reported that Huawei had tested a software that alerts automatically an ‘Uyghur Alarm’ to the Chinese police when the camera detects an Uyghur face. 

Press Conference – “A Global Call for the OIC to Stand with Uyghurs”
On December 17, the US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) hosted a press conference organised by Free Uyghurs Now to call on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to break their silence and to take aktions against the severe human rights violations committed by the Chines government against the Uyghurs. USCMO invited Dolkun Isa, WUC President, Rushan Abbas, President of Campaign for Uyghurs, Omer Kanat, Executive Director of the Uyghurs Human Rights Project, and Sheikh Omar Suleiman, Scholar and President of Yaqeen Institute, to speak at the press conference. “Even the most basic expression of religious identity has been criminalized”, remarked Mr. Isa at the press conference.

New Evidence on Uyghur Forced Labour in the Cotton Industry
On December 15, Dr. Adrian Zenz published another important report on the extent of forced labour in East Turkistan. Mr. Zenz analysed documents from online government policy papers and state new reports which suggests that upwards of a half a million Uyghurs and others have been working in seasonal cotton picking under conditions that raise a high risk of coercion. Furthermore, the report also shows that cotton workers are not only forced into hard, manual labour in the vast cotton fields but also are subjected to indoctrination and brainwashing. This report provided for the first time official evidence about forced labour in the cotton production.

WUC President, Dolkun Isa, and Advocacy Manager, Zumretay Arkin, spoke to Deutsche Welle about the new published evidence on forced labour in the cotton industry and business due diligence. “So many Western companies continue making business with China. It is not the time for business as usual”, stated Mr. Isa. 

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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!