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Weekly Brief, 23 June 2023

Weekly Brief, 23 June 2023


World Uyghur Congress Organises Joint Action on German-Chinese Government Consultations
On June 15, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) together with a group of human rights organizations issued a joint statement ahead of the German-Chinese Government Consultations, which were held in Berlin on June 20, calling on the German government to strongly address the human rights violations committed by the Chinese Communist Party against Uyghurs, Tibetans, Hongkongers, Mongolians and Chinese human rights defenders. In particular, the organisations called on Germany to publicly demand that the Chinese government put an end to its human rights crimes. Additionally, the organisations call for the German government to request the immediate release of political, ethnic and religious prisoners and for China to provide free access to international media, UN experts and diplomats throughout China and its occupied territories. 

During a joint press conference on the intergovernmental consultations, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz barely addressed the human rights concerns in global supply chains and did not openly mention the Uyghur genocide or other human rights atrocities committed by the CCP. “The Chinese government sets the tone and Germany follows suit. Critical issues like the Uyghur Genocide are left out, and questions from journalists are not welcome. The German-Chinese government consultations are a grim day for human rights”, says WUC President Dolkun Isa. 

On June 20, the WUC organised a joint demonstration outside the German Chancellery in Berlin to protest against the visit of Chinese Premier Li Qiang and to demand a clear and realistic response from the German government to China’s aggressive policy. Hours earlier the WUC and other human rights organisations issued a press release demanding Germany to make human rights a priority over economic interests. “The genocide of Uyghurs & other Turkic peoples must be at the center of the German foreign policy. Millions continue to be held in internment camps under inhumane conditions. Mr. Scholz has the moral duty to work for the immediate end of the genocide”, says Gheyyur Kuerban, WUC Berlin Director.

On the evening of June 20, the WUC held another demonstration in Munich to protest the Chinese Premier’s visit to the Bavarian capital for economic talks, reiterating the call “no business without human rights”.

World Uyghur Congress Supports ECCHR Complaint Against Car Manufacturers Involved in Uyghur Forced Labor
On June 21, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), filed a complaint against Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes Benz with the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA). The complaint is supported by the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany. From January 1, 2023 the companies were required to comply with human rights due diligence obligations under the German Supply Chain Act and to take appropriate measures to prevent or eliminate forced labour. However, until now they haven’t presented supporting documents proving that they are adequately responding to the risk of forced labour in supplier factories in East Turkistan. “The adoption of the German Supply Chain Act is an important milestone. Now, this needs to show that it works. Automakers like Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen have a responsibility to ensure that they do not profit from Uyghur forced labor,” says Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress.

A report by Sheffield Hallam Unviversity and NomoGaia shows that Uyghur forced labour is especially widespread in the auto industry, with serious evidence against Mercedes Benz, BMW and Volkswagen. In addition, Volkswagen is the only car manufacturer to operate a plant in Urumchi and has until now not been able to transparently prove that no human rights violations are being committed there.Prior to the complaint, the WUC engaged in a week-long action to call upon Volkswagen (VW) to stop profiting from the Uyghur genocide and systematic use of Uyghur forced labor in East Turkistan. Despite all the facts Volkswagen keeps on denying its involvement in Uyghur forced labour. “Even if there is no forced labour, it is such a big symbol for the Chinese government to show the world that they bring prosperity to the region,” said Eva Stocker, senior project officer from the WUC. “But we see it as a genocide.”

On June 22, the car manufacturer announced that the VW-SAIC plant will be audited by an independent audit company. “Uyghurs are under 24-hour surveillance by the Chinese government, both in private and in public spaces,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress. “No one can speak freely without putting themselves and their families in life-threatening danger. The whole region is like an open-air prison. Therefore, it is very questionable how Volkswagen will ensure that the audit can be conducted independently. Volkswagen has a moral duty to ensure that it does not become a profiteer of the genocide of the Uyghur people.”  

WUC Brings Attention to Uyghur Refugees on World Refugee Day
On June 20, the World Refugee Day, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) honoured all people who were forced to flee their countries in fear of persecution, war or violence and drew attention to the the plight of Uyghur refugees around the world, who are escaping the ongoing genocide committed by the Chinese Communist Party. Uyghurs who are fleeing are still not safe and face a myriad of stresses and vulnerabilities, including statelessness, transnational repression and the fear of being forcibly returned to China. 

In 2014, 350 Uyghur men, women, and children who fled China, were arrested and detained by Thai authorities. In July 2015, at least 170 women and children were transferred to Turkey and some weeks later, 109 men and women were deported to China. A remaining 50 Uyghur men have ever since been detained and are currently held inside the Suan Phlu IDC, in Thailand suffering prolonged physical and psychological abuse as a result of inadequate access to medical treatment, unhygienic and overcrowded conditions and a lack of access to nutritious food. The horrible conditions led to the death of two Uyghur men earlier this year. The WUC reiterated its call to the Thai authorities to immediately release all detained Uyghurs and to avoid refoulement, with the provision of resettlement choices in safe third countries. Several countries around the world are already offering the prospect of Uyghurs to seek asylum, such as Canada. The Canadian parliament unanimously passed a motion (M-62) in February of this year calling on the Canadian government to use Canada’s Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program to accept 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic muslims in need of protection into the country. 

World Uyghur Congress Organises Exhibition on Xinjiang Police Files in Prague
From June 19-22, the World Uyghur congress organised a photo exhibition in Prague on the Xinjiang Police Files. The Xinjiang Police Files are leaked documents, which prove the mass detention of millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic muslims in the Chinese concentration camps in East Turkistan. The files included thousands of pictures of detained Uyghurs as well as the photos of armed police, numerous speeches, spreadsheets and protocols from 2018. This is the second exhibition organised by the WUC. The first one was successfully held in Berlin back in February this year. 

While in Prague, a WUC delegation led by President Dolkun Isa had a productive meeting with Czech MPs Eva Decroix and Hayato Okamuro in the Chamber of Deputies. 


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.