Weekly Brief: 29 November

World Uyghur Congress, 29 November 2019

Following Substantive Leaks of Official Documents WUC Urges International Community For Long Overdue Action

Since secret documents were leaked to the New York Times and the ICIJ over the past two weeks, “there is no longer any excuse for silence. The documents show everything very clearly,” WUC President, Dolkun Isa, told Reuters.

The two leaked troves of classified Chinese documents paint an unmistakable picture of how the Chinese government is attempting to exterminate the Uyghur culture and identity by political indoctrination, torture and intimidation in and outside of camps where 1-3 million Uyghurs are being held against their will.

In the light of these documents, the WUC President continued that those governments who had been asking for evidence of China’s crimes against humanity must now take action. “Targeted financial sanctions against Chinese companies who enable the total state of surveillance in the Uyghur Region are the most effectful means at the disposal of German and European policy makers,” Mr. Isa told the German newspaper BILD earlier this week.

WUC President Received by Swiss Foreign Ministry Officials

On 28 November, WUC President Dolkun Isa, together with a delegation from the Swiss Society for Threatened Peoples, was received by representatives of the Swiss Foreign Ministry in Bern. Mr. Isa reiterated the WUC’s call on Swiss companies operating in East Turkistan to take immediate steps to ensure non-complicity in rights abuses. “It is not time for business as usual,” Mr. Isa said, calling on the Swiss government to rethink their trade relationship with China.

In particular, the business engagements of UBS, who are invested in a minority stake in Hikvision, the surveillance equipment company deeply involved in the rollout of China’s surveillance system in the Uyghur Region; SwissRe, who supported Bingtuan, an economic and paramilitary organization with administrative authority over large areas in the region; and Nestlé, who source tomato products in East Turkistan, are of heightened concern.

WUC Representative Raises Uyghur Issue at UN Minority Forum

On 28 November, a WUC representative addressed the UN Forum on Minority Issues during its session on human rights and minority language education. The WUC urged China to “reset their policies […] that totally prohibit children from speaking their mother language.”

The representative reminded the UN forum that “the use of the Uyghur language itself is under threat of extinction,” following its total ban on all education levels in Hotan prefecture in 2018. Since then, schools across the region have been making sure that students only use the Chinese language to communicate and abandon their Uyghur identity.

EU Expresses New Resolve to Address Uyghur Issue

Ahead of her first day of work as the new President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen expressed her determination to have a telephone conversation with the Chinese government on 1 December about the disclosure of documents on the systematic repression and political indoctrination of Uyghurs; in light of these developments, “the European Union seeks to intervene”.

David McAllister, Chair of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, further announced that the issue would also be addressed in Parliament during its next plenary session from 16 to 19 December.