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Weekly Brief, 22 December

Weekly Brief, 22 December


Court of Appeal Hearing Takes Place in Universal Jurisdiction Case in Argentina
On December 21, 2023, Buenos Aires’ Court of Appeal heard an appeal in the Uyghur case filed by Lawyers for Uyghur Rights, Uyghur Human Rights Project, and the World Uyghur Congress. The case, involving alleged crimes against humanity and genocide by China, had been mistakenly stayed by the Prosecutor due to a perceived parallel case in Turkey.

This marked the first presentation of the Uyghurs’ case before a criminal court, following a criminal complaint filed in Argentina under universal jurisdiction provisions on August 16, 2022. The Prosecutor’s decision to stay the case, influenced by reports from Turkey, was appealed on November 14, 2023.

During the December 21 hearing, it was argued that there was no evidence of the case being considered in Turkey, and only the Turkish Justice Minister could initiate such a case. Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, made an opening statement emphasising Argentina’s unique role in seeking justice against dictatorial regimes and the absence of a case in Turkey for the victims. 

“Today was an important day in the history of accountability for Uyghurs. A Uyghur addressed a criminal court for the first time in relation to the ongoing genocide in East Turkistan. We have been seeking justice and liability for so long, and today’s hearing was the first step towards these goals,” Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, stated. 

World Uyghur Congress Issues an Open Letter to Volkswagen
On December 19, the World Uyghur Congress, the Society for Threatened Peoples and the Association of Ethical Shareholders issued a joint letter to Volkswagen(VW) questioning the recent audit performed by Löning Human Rights & Responsible Business GmbH. Importantly, following the publication of the audit findings, staff from Löning posted a statement on LinkedIn, distancing themselves from the audit, claiming “no other team member from Löning participated in, supported or backed this project.” Consequently, this has raised more questions regarding the credibility of the findings from the audit. 

Investigations by Newspapers Expose Chinese Government Interference
An investigation led by the Financial Times exposed the operations of Chinese spy Daniel Woo. The agent of the Ministry of State Security (MSS) operated former Belgian politician Frank Creyelman for over three years, using him to influence European discussions on China-related issues, including the Uyghur genocide and debates on COVID-19. Furthermore, Woo urged Creyelman to publicly criticise the US and UK to sow discord in the US-European relationship. The operations also included discrediting Adrian Zenz, a renowned expert on Uyghurs. The case highlights China’s extensive influence operations, targeting lower-ranking sympathetic politicians to gain access to sensitive information and target high-level individuals. The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China issued a statement criticising China’s interference in Belgian’s internal affairs and called on other countries to consider concrete ways of resisting the PRC’s interference. 

The PRC engages in cyber-espionage in Germany, targeting the computers of companies and authorities, spreading disinformation, and surveilling dissidents. The Chinese government’s influence on German politics is extensive, as revealed in a SPIEGEL report. Tibetans, Hong Kongers, as well as Uyghur activists, face threats and cyber-attacks along other intimidation tactics, which point to a systemic repression campaign. The activists call upon the government to establish a central point of contact on repression in light of German security agencies seeming overwhelmed, lacking language skills and knowledge of Beijing’s tactics. 

World Uyghur Congress Stands in Solidarity with Hong Kong Democracy Movement
On December 18, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) issued a press release in solidarity with the democracy movement in Hong Kong in light of the commencement of the trial of Jimmy Lai. Mr. Lai is a 76-year-old Hong Kong businessman and owner of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. He stands accused of “violating the National Security Law”. The show trial is part of a systematic crackdown on pro-democracy leaders and freedom of expression following just one week after a new series of bounty announcements for five pro-democracy leaders living overseas by the Hong Kong authorities. WUC also signed on to a joint letter led by Hong Kong Watch issued by over 80 civil society organisations, urging protection for activists in exile and denouncing the National Security Law’s overreach. 

“The trial of Jimmy Lai and the crackdown on pro-democracy leaders in Hong Kong, orchestrated by the long arm of the CCP, are deeply alarming. We stand in solidarity with those bravely fighting for freedom of expression, human rights and democracy in Hong Kong,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa. 

The U.S. Introduces a New Bill in Response to the Uyghur Genocide
On December 14, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new bill called the “Uyghur Genocide Intelligence Review Act”. The law was introduced by the Member of the U.S. Democratic Party, Ritchie Torres. Under the new bill, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has to submit an annual report to Congress on the Uyghur genocide. According to Representative Torres, the U.S. government shows its solidarity with the Uyghur people through this legislation. It makes the CCP accountable for its attempts to destroy Uyghur culture, identity, and history, thus eliminating Uyghurs as a people. The bill is part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2024 (NDAA).