WEEKLY BRIEF: 20 MARCH 2020

World Uyghur Congress, 20 March 2020

Uyghurs in Turkey: “I Thought I Would Be Safe”
This week, npr started issuing a special series on Uyghurs in Turkey. NPR interviewed several people from the Uyghur diaspora in Turkey who told them that they were arbitrarily arrested and humiliated by Turkish authorities to silence their voices. 

According to local leaders at least 35,000 Uyghurs are living in Turkey. It is estimated that between 350 and 700 children, whose parents have disappeared in East Turkistan, fled to Turkey. In this special series npr also tells the story of Uyghur children living in Turkey in a boarding school. 

Voices from Xinjiang
“I’ll tell you a story that describes my father well”. That is how the story of Akikat begins. He describes how education was everything to his father. The father bought his son his first piano and supported him with his music career. After his marriage, Akikat moved to Kazakhstan. He stayed in contact with his family on WeChat and through calls. But this changed suddenly in 2018, when a woman came to his father’s house whose husband was beaten to death by security guards at a reeducation camp. She was asking him to write a complaint about the murdered neighbor to the Chinese authorities. Shortly after the father wrote the complaint, he and the whole family got detained by the Chinese authorities.  

Akikat is one of the Voices of East Turkistan sharing their personal story. These stories were published by the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Kazakhstan. 

Human Rights Watch and The International Service for Human Rights: UN Needs to Step on East Turkistan Abuse
On March 12, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) issued a joint statement calling on the UN rights body to take immediate concrete action on the Uyghur crisis.According to their statement, the United Nations should make the human right crisis in East Turkistan a matter of priority. “Without swift action to address the unprecedented human rights crisis in Xinjiang, the Human Rights Council risks failing in its mandate to hold powerful member States accountable”, wrote HRW and ISHR.      

Construction Workers Give Insights about the Internment Camps
On March 14, Bitter Winter published an interview with three construction workers who have been hired to build some of the internment facilities. The three men describe the camps, where 1.8 to 3 million Uyghurs are arbitrarily detained by the Chinese government, as ‘impenetrable strongholds with total video surveillance”. According to one of the interviewees 42 million RMB (about $ 6 million) has been spent on surveillance technology just in East Turkistan. The workers also give insights about the surveillance system inside the camps. The article also includes photos of factories under construction in a transformation through education camp.

Also this week, a CCTV package from 2017 reveals the patronising and cruel nature of China’s Uyghur labour transfer system. The video shows how CCP cadres are recruiting 100 young Uyghur girls from 2 isolated villages in Guma county. Even after the covid-19 outbreak, Uyghurs have been transported across China and therefore have been heavily affected by the virus as  Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) researchers wrote in a guest article for The Washington Post. Earlier this month ASPI published its report on forced labour and the abusive practices of transporting camp detainees to major factories across China.

Chinese Government Expels US Journalists
On March 17, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced their decision to expel American journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. This announcement came as a reaction to the decision of the Trump administration to limit the number of Chinese citizens, who can work in the United States for Chinese state run propaganda outlets, to the number of 100. The American news organisations reported about the Covid-19 outbreak in China as well as the obscure business dealings of family members of CCP leaders and the mass internment of Uyghurs in East Turkistan.

According to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, foreign journalists and their families were harassed by Chinese authorities and had to undergo onerous processes to renew their visas. China is expanding its fight against the free and independent press. In February, the Chinese government disparaged and threatened the Kathmandu Post Editor in chief after critical reporting about the Covid-19 outbreak and cancelled visas of three Wall Street Journal correspondents.