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Weekly Brief, 19 January 2024

Weekly Brief, 19 January 2024

NEWS

World Uyghur Congress Congratulates Newly Elected President of Taiwan
On January 13, the World Uyghur Congress  congratulated  William Lai Ching-te from the Taiwanese governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on his victory in the recent presidential elections. In his statement, Mr. Lai promised to protect the island from the Chinese government’s “intimidation”. Despite Beijing’s active interference and warning campaigns, Taiwanese people were not influenced by China’s pressure and chose to defend their territorial sovereignty and democracy. Mr. Lai will take power on May 20, together with former representative to the U.S., Hsiao Bi-khim. ‘’Today’s election result is a great win for democracy in Asia. The people of Taiwan decided on their political future and elected a leader that is not intimidated by China,’’ said WUC President, Dolkun Isa. ‘’Uyghurs around the world celebrate this win.’’

On December 27, 2022, the Taiwanese Parliament recognized that Chinese government is committing crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghur people.  

World Uyghur Congress Calls for Release of Ilham Tohti
On January 15, the 10th anniversary of the arrest of renowned Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, the World Uyghur Congress called for renewed attention to his case, advocating for his immediate release, as well as the release of countless Uyghur intellectuals and scholars currently detained. Professor. Tohti, who diligently worked for two decades fostering dialogue and conciliation between Uyghurs and Han Chinese was arrested by the Chinese government in 2014 and sentenced to life in prison on the charges of “inciting separatism”. ‘’Ilham Tohti’s life imprisonment was the first sign of the repressive policies to be implemented in East Turkistan,’’ said WUC President Dolkun Isa. ‘’China’s decision demonstrated an absolute refusal to consider the concerns of the Uyghur people, and his fate warned the entire Uyghur society that even peaceful and moderate voices were no longer tolerated.’’ 

Professor Ilham Tohti remains an inspirational figure for the Uyghur community and a symbol of the peaceful struggle for basic rights. For his work, Professor Tohti has been awarded countless prizes and awards, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize multiple times since 2019. 

China Increases Genocide Tourism
On January 12, Radio Free Asia highlighted an increase in the number of visits to East Turkistan. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, up to 400 delegations with an overall of 4,300 people including journalists, political and religious figures and ordinary travellers, have visited the region in 2023. Under the government sponsored tour programs, the visitors were taken to see mosques, heritage sites, local factories and businesses. Claudia Bennet from Human Rights Foundation stated that such trips are part of the Chinese government’s propaganda campaign which aims to hide the realities of arbitrarily detentions, forced labour and family separations. China’s upcoming fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is another reason why the government is actively promoting these visits. 

“Collaborating with China’s propaganda equates to complicity in genocide – a grave crime.” said World Uyghur Congress President, Dolkun Isa.  “Humanity will not forget, and the Uyghur nation will not forget. Those involved will be held accountable before history.”

Foreign Travel Agencies Profit from the Uyghur Genocide
On January 17, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) published new research revealing the active involvement of at least 18 European travel agencies from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands in promoting tours to East Turkistan amid the Uyghur genocide. The research furthermore highlights that some agencies offer visits to Uyghur homes. For instance, the French travel company Hasamélis, as part of its ‘La Route de la Soie Chinoise’ tour, was found to be offering dinner in Turpan with a Uyghur family at their home. Families are obligated to welcome the visitors; otherwise, they can face punishment or even detention by the Chinese government. The briefing, titled ‘Genocide Tours: European Travel Companies in East Turkistan,’ is the second in a series on international travel companies offering ‘genocide tourism’ in East Turkistan. Previously, UHRP issued a report in August 2023 highlighting seven companies based in North America, Australia, and the U.K. that advertised trips to the region. 

“It is difficult to understand why overseas travel companies still offer tours to East Turkistan. It’s a stain on the reputation of their brand. The cooperation with a genocidal state required to run these tours should make any responsible company stop offering them immediately, said UHRP Executive Director, Omer Kanat.

Switzerland Strengthens Its Relationship With China
On January 15, Chinese Premier Li Qiang met with Swiss President Viola Amherd in Zurich, Switzerland. During the meeting, both sides decided to upgrade their free trade agreement and to simplify visa procedures for travel between the two countries, with China agreeing to provide visa-free entry for Swiss citizens. Within Asia, China is the largest trading partner of Switzerland and its third most important partner globally after the EU and the U.S. In March 2021, Switzerland adopted its first-ever foreign policy strategy for China, covering the 2021-2024 period, designed to foster ‘greater coherence’ with Beijing and recognizing China as a pivotal partner in Switzerland’s foreign policy. Moreover, in 2022, Switzerland diverged from the European Union’s stance by declining to impose sanctions on certain Chinese individuals and companies complicit in the Uyghur Genocide.

PARTICIPATE

Join Post UPR Briefing at the UN
Attend a post UPR press briefing with Tibetan, Uyghur, Hongkonger, Chinese and rights group representatives who will provide on-the-ground analysis of the outcomes of China’s Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations and what this means for affected communities living under Beijing’s rule. Please register to attend here.

Join Our Protest to Commemorate the Ghulja Massacre
Join the World Uyghur Congress, Stop Uyghur Genocide and the UK Uyghur Community on February 5, to commemorate the victims of the Ghulja massacre – demand life, human rights and freedom for the Uyghur people. More information here

Vote WUC
The WUC is honoured to be nominated for the ‘For Freedom Impact Award’ of Freedom United. Please vote for the WUC! (Votes are open for two weeks).

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.