WEEKLY BRIEF, 23 OCTOBER 2020

World Uyghur Congress, 23 October 2020

NEWS

Canadian Parliamentary Committee Labels Uyghur Crisis a “Genocide”
On 21 October, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) in the Canadian Parliament has designated atrocities by the Chinese government against the Uyghur people in East Turkistan to be a genocide in line with the UN Genocide Convention. The Subcommittee came to this important conclusion after holding a three-day hearing, considering relevant reports and hearing the testimony of witnesses to the crisis. The Subcommittee called for a number of concrete action to address the genocide, including levying targeted sanctions on culpable Chinese government officials, provide support for the Canadian Uyghur community and Uyghur refugees, to work within international forums and institutions to push for the recognition of the crisis as a genocide, and measures to ensure that Canadian companies are not complicit in Uyghur forced labour.

“We thank the Canadian Subcommittee recognizing that the atrocities against Uyghurs constitute genocide and for proposing concrete and meaningful action for Canada to take to address this crisis,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa. “We urge R.Hon. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government to adopt and implement the conclusions of the committee and to demonstrate that Canada will not sit idly by while a genocide takes place.”

While this is the first time that a government entity has recognized the Uyghur crisis as a genocide, the question has also been raised in the United States. On the 16th of October, Reuters reported that US National Security Advisor, Robert O’Brien, had stated that China was perpetrating “something close to” a genocide with its treatment of Muslims in the Uyghur region. The WUC will continue to urge the US and other national governments to address this important question and adopt appropriate terminology that reflects the urgency of the Uyghur crisis.

WUC Calls for Support on Uyghur Tribunal Crowdfunding Campaign
The WUC has welcomed the newly launched crowdfunding campaign of the Uyghur Tribunal and calls upon its audience to consider supporting the Uyghur Tribunal. The Tribunal was launched in September to investigate these ongoing crimes committed by the CCP against the Uyghurs and other Turkic ethnic groups. Since its launch, the Tribunal has already received extended press coverage and interest from different governmental bodies around the world. 

The World Uyghur Congress has provided some initial evidence but the Tribunal will invite submissions from other representatives of the wider Uyghur worldwide community and from any parties who may be able to assist the Tribunal in its endeavor, including from the PRC itself. ‘’Many individuals and organisations have been asking ways to contribute to the Uyghur cause. This is a rare opportunity to directly support the advancement of the Uyghur cause in the international community. This Tribunal is a vital step towards accountability’’ said WUC President, Dolkun Isa. If you want to support this endeavour, please consider donating what you can here. 

WUC President Speaks at the Film Festival Diritti Umani Lugano
From 16-18 October, WUC President Dolkun Isa attended and spoke at the Film Festival Diritti Umani Lugano in Switzerland, which screened well-curated films on diverse human rights topics and brought together artists, human rights activists, journalists, and high-level political and business representatives. Mr. Isa participated in a panel after the screening of We Have Boots, a film about the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong. Mr. Isa addressed the horrific persecution of Uyghur and Hong Kongers, highlighting how the same techniques and technologies tested on the Uyghur population are now being used to repress Hong Kong democracy protesters. Mr. Isa also spoke at a press conference organised in parallel to the Film Festival on Friday, 16 October, where he spoke in detail about the Uyghur genocide and the necessity of the international community to take urgent action.

The WUC and Mr. Isa would like to thank the Lugano Film Festival for this very engaging and successful weekend at the Lugano Human Rights Film Festival and for the great hospitality.

WUC Signs Joint Statement Calling for the Release of 12 Hong Kong Activists
On the 21st of October, the WUC participated in a joint statement with 43 other organizations, condemning the arrest and detention of the 12 Hong Konger activists who are currently being held in incommunicado detention in mainland China, after being detained trying to flee Hong Kong for Taiwan. Moreover, the joint statement called for the immediate release of the detained Hong Kongers and urged the international community to take urgent action to press Chinese authorities, in the strongest possible terms, to release the Hong Kong 12. The organizations expressed their solidarity with the Hong Kong movement for democracy and rights, and saluted the people of Hong Kong for refusing to remain silent as Beijing reneges on its promise of universal suffrage and democratic reforms.

European Commission Proposes New Sanctions Regime
On the 20th of October, Euractiv reported that the European Commission proposed a bill on travel-bans and asset-freezes that punishes individuals responsible for human rights violations worldwide. The Commission plan, which is set to establish an EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, would replace the EU’s country-by-country system for imposing asset freezes and travel bans on foreigners deemed to have violated fundamental rights with a single framework for such penalties. The Sanction Regime would be a significant development, as it would allow the EU to target Chinese officials responsible for serious human rights violations and abuses against the Uyghur people in East Turkistan.  

Better Cotton Initiative Ceases Field-Level Activities in East Turkistan
On the 21st of October, WWD reported that the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) has decided to cease all its field-level activities in East Turkistan, in the context of the mass arbitrary detention and forced labour of Uyghurs.  “Sustained allegations of forced labour and other human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China have contributed to an increasingly untenable operating environment, and BCI has, therefore, taken the decision to cease all field-level activities in the region effective immediately, including capacity building and data monitoring and reporting,” the group said. The WUC welcomes this development, which underscores the need for companies and businesses to practice supply chain due diligence or cease their involvement with Chinese factories using Uyghur forced labour. 

Video Reports Highlight 20,000 Former Camp Detainees Subjected to Forced Labour
On the 23rd of October, Radio Free Asia reported that video reports, filmed in secret inside China and uploaded to YouTube last month by Miradil Hesen, a resident of Aksu prefecture, highlighted forced labour and providing evidence that internment camps in East Turkistan have increasingly moved Uyghurs into forced labor settings, with former detainees being sent to work in cotton and textile factories. According to a company official, around 20,000 former internment camp detainees are working at the Aksu prefecture branch of an eastern China-based textile producer that has been identified as part of a forced labour scheme in East Turkistan. 

PARTICIPATE

Support the Uyghur Tribunal
The Uyghur Tribunal, launched in September to investigate ongoing crimes committed by the CCP against the Uyghurs and other Turkic ethnic groups, has launched its crowdfunding campaign. The Uyghur Tribunal is one of the most valuable initiatives to address the Uyghur plight. Your contributions make a real difference; act now by donating here!