Weekly Brief, 25 September 2020

World Uyghur Congress, 25 September 2020


New Study Finds China has Built 380 Internment Camps in East Turkistan since 2017

On September 24th, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) released The Xinjiang Data Project, an online database bringing together rigorous, empirical research on the human rights situation for Uyghurs and other groups in East Turkistan. It focuses on a core set of topics including mass internment camps, surveillance and emerging technologies, forced labour and supply chains, the ‘re-education’ campaign, deliberate cultural destruction and other human rights issues.

In one of its research projects, ASPI researchers have identified and mapped over 380 sites in the detention network across East Turkistan, counting only re-education camps, detention centres and prisons that were newly built or significantly expanded since 2017. The ASPI project captures the vast scale of network of internment facilities, which have been the most visible example of the ongoing Uyghur genocide.

In another report that is part of the Data Project, the ASPI found that the Chinese government embarked on a systematic campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan by desecrating or “rectifying” mosques and indigenous sacred sites. The report maps over 900 mosques and other important Uyghur religious-cultural sites across East Turkistan, analyses their condition before and after 2017, and then used statistical extrapolation to estimate the full extent of their destruction and alteration. Since 2017, about 30% of mosques were demolished, another 30% damaged in some way, and over 50% of Uyghur cultural sites were damaged or destroyed.

EU Companies Selling Surveillance Tools to China’s Human Rights Abusers

On September 21st, Amnesty International published a new report, whose findings indicate that European companies have sold digital surveillance technology to Chinese state security agencies implicated in the severe human rights abuses in East Turkistan. According to the report, three companies from France, Sweden, and the Netherlands sold facial recognition technology and network cameras that Chinese security agencies have directly used in China’s indiscriminate mass surveillance programmes against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups throughout the country. Such invasive surveillance programs are particularly ubiquitous in East Turkistan, where they are used by Chinese authorities to monitor and track the Uyghur people, violating many of their basic rights and freedoms.

By revealing that the investigated EU exports are used in a foreign country’s human rights abuses, the Amnesty report illustrates the major shortcomings in the EU’s export regulation framework. This highlights the need for better EU legislation on dual use regulation as well as due diligence, which is currently being debated by the Commission.

Chinese Authorities in East Turkistan Acknowledge Drop in Birth Rates amongst Uyghur Women

In a letter to CNN, responding to questions for an article published in July that documented a campaign of abuse and control by Beijing targeting women from the Uyghur minority, the Chinese government in East Turkistan officially acknowledged birth rates in Xinjiang dropped by almost a third in 2018, compared to the previous year. The drop in birth rates can be seen as a direct result of Uyghur women being forced to use birth control and undergo sterilization as part of a deliberate attempt to push down birth rates among minorities in East Turkistan. These action fall under the United Nations definition of “genocide” by specifically “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” 

China Expands Mass Labor Program in Tibet

On 22 September, Reuters reported that China is pushing growing numbers of Tibetan rural laborers off the land and into recently built military-style training centers where they are turned into factory workers. Setting new quotas for the mass transfer of Tibetan rural laborers, both within Tibet and to other parts of China, marks a rapid expansion of a program of forced labor that has been implemented in East Turkistan as well. A key link between the programs in East Turkistan and Tibet is the former Tibet Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who assumed the same post in East Turkistan in 2016 and spearheaded the development of the region’s internment camp system. 

World Uyghur Congress Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Global Imams Council

On September 14, the WUC and the Global Imam Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding created to foster collaboration between the two organizations. The World Uyghur Congress is highly pleased to welcome its cooperation with the Global Imams Council. To initiate the collaboration between the two organizations, two prominent Uyghur Imams, Imam Alawdun and Imam Dr. Atta Allah, were appointed to the Global Imams Council.  

“This cooperation breaks the existing silence from the Muslim majority countries on the ongoing atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghurs. This is a necessary step to address the Uyghur issue among the Muslim community,” stated WUC President, Dolkun Isa, on the Memorandum. “We would like to thank the Global Imams Council for this initiative and look forward to a close and fruitful cooperation.”

WUC Congratulates Nury A. Turkel for Being Included in Annual TIME100 List

On September 23, the World Uyghur Congress welcomed the inclusion of Nury A. Turkel in TIME’s annual TIME100 List of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, which recognizes the important work that Nury Turkel has been undertaking to draw attention to the Uyghur crisis and push for action to address the crisis. As a U.S.-educated attorney, Nury has worked tirelessly to build the Uyghur human-rights movement, representing hundreds of Uyghur political refugees to win asylum in the U.S., and bringing the plight of our people to the world’s attention.

“The WUC, the wider Uyghur community and myself as a friend, we are proud of Nury for being named to the 2020 TIME100 that will help to shine a spotlight on the atrocities that China has committed against the Uyghur people”, wrote WUC President Dolkun Isa in his tribute to Nury Turkel. “It is a testament to his important work to address the Uyghur crisis and to the attention and importance that TIME and the international community have placed on the ongoing Uyghur genocide.” 

Civil Society Groups Applaud Norway Oil Fund Divestment from Hikvision

On 24 September, The Norwegian Uyghur Committee, Uyghur Human Rights Project, World Uyghur Congress, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, issued a press release in which they welcomed the Government Pension Fund of Norway (Oil Fund)’s decision to divest from Chinese surveillance company, Hikvision Digital Technology, and urge global investors to review investments in entities responsible for gross rights abuses targeting Uyghurs.

“It is unacceptable for people and organisations to profit off the incredible suffering of others. The WUC welcomes the decision of the Norwegian Oil Fund to halt its investment in Hikvision and call on other funds and relevant entities to take similar principled action,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa.

The Oil Fund’s decision is in line with recommendations made in January 2020 by the Fund’s Advisory Council on Ethics, which were based on “an unacceptable risk of the company [Hikvision] participating in serious human rights violations”. Moreover, the Oil Fund’s reassessment also follows the appeal in an open letter earlier this year from the above civil society organizations. The Oil Fund’s divestment from Hikvision sends a signal that wealth funds that claim commitment to responsible investment should not support gross and systematic human rights violations.

China rebuked by at UN Human Rights Council over Atrocities against Uyghur people

On 25 September, Reuters reported that during the UN 45th Human Rights Council General Debate, Western powers shared their mounting concerns over China’s long list of grave human rights abuses against the Uyghur people in East Turkistan. Western actors – including the EU, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Australia – furthermore called upon China to open up East Turkistan for an independent visit.

In a similar fashion, WUC Project and Advocacy Manager Zumretay Arkin delivered an oral statement to the Human Rights Council yesterday, stating that the WUC welcomes “the June 26th joint communication from UN independent experts calling for decisive measures to protect human rights in China and call on the UN Human Rights Council to promptly act to end this possible genocide before it’s too late.”


End Forced Labor in East Turkistan
Interested in advocating to end forced labor in East Turkistan? The Uyghur Human Rights Project and the Uyghur American Association are holding Virtual Lobby Days this month. Interested constituents across the U.S. are welcome. Please sign up here

Global Day of Action

On October 1st, hundreds of protests around the world are happening in a global campaign, calling upon governments to resist China and to build strong multilateral action to effectively challenge the Chinese Communist Party totalitarian regime. You can find your nearest protest here