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Weekly Brief, 3 June 2022

Weekly Brief, 3 June 2022


World Uyghur Congress Conducts Advocacy Trip to Switzerland 
This week, a WUC delegation led by President Dolkun Isa, Program & Advocacy Manager Zumretay Arkin and Project Officer Eva Stocker successfully conducted an advocacy trip to Bern, Switzerland. They met with Members of leading parties in Parliament, government officials, and civil society. The conducted advocacy aimed to urge the Swiss authorities and policymakers to take action against the Uyghur genocide. In the Swiss context, that also means the end of the Swiss-China Free Trade Agreement, as well as corporate social responsibility and due diligence in terms of labour rights.

High Commissioner Michele Bachelet Fails Her Mandate
On May 28th, UN Human Rights Chief, Michele Bachelet, held a press conference, concluding her trip to East Turkistan and China. By failing to condemn China’s atrocity crimes and ongoing genocide, she has ruined her office’s credibility and aided in the propaganda efforts of the CCP.
For years, the World Uyghur Congress and other human rights groups have highlighted the conditions for such a visit to be meaningful, including the ability to speak freely with Uyghur victims, unfettered access to East Turkistan and the release of the High Commissioner’s independent report on human rights violations in East Turkistan. None of them has been fulfilled. During the press conference, Ms Bachelet stated that she was “unable to assess” the full scale of the violations in the so-called Vocational Education and Training Centers (VETCs).
Following Bachelet’s highly disappointing visit, the WUC strongly urges her office to release her independent assessment of the situation in East Turkistan with strong recommendations, as a show of willingness to hold the Chinese government accountable for crimes against humanity and genocide committed.

British and German Foreign Ministries: UN Visit Was Not an Independent Assessment
On May 30th, UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the German Federal Foreign Office issued statements assessing the OHCHR’s trip to China and East Turkistan. “It is clear that the Chinese authorities did not provide the full, unfettered access to Xinjiang for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that we and our international partners have long called for. China’s failure to grant such access only serves to highlight their determination to hide the truth” said a spokesperson of the FCDO. The German Foreign Office further highlighted that “human rights are not an internal matter for individual states”, which is China’s premise to avoid international scrutiny on gross international law violations. The statements demonstrate the mounting international pressure, concern and alignment on the issue after compelling evidence begins to be uncovered.

Capitol Hill Protests 
On May 28, the Uyghur American Association, Uyghur activists and camp survivors took to the streets and gathered at Capitol Hill for a demonstration to demand the Chinese authorities to release their families from the camps and for the UN High Commissioner to release the overdue human rights report on East Turkistan. Protesters displayed the portraits retrieved from Chinese police files in an attempt for the faces of those suffering the genocide to be seen. China’s government is no longer able to dehumanise the victims, as the world observes their evident painful emotions, the arbitrary nature of arrest charges in their records, and the excessive use of violence to intimidate and coerce.

United States Implements the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act 
On December 23, 2021, the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act was signed into law by US President Joe Biden. This new piece of legislation is expected to come into force on June 21st, and will specifically outlaw all products coming from East Turkistan based on the presumption that all goods produced in the region are tainted with forced labour. A high amount of evidence against the presumption is needed to grant an exception, on a case-to-case basis. When asked during a webinar, the US Customs and Border Protection’s Chief said the government agency is ready to enforce the ban starting on the aforementioned date.
The World Uyghur Congress welcomes the measure and awaits other countries to adopt similar actions. Further steps are also being taken to assess China’s human rights violations, including the call for the establishment of an International Labour Organization mission to probe the working conditions in East Turkistan.