Weekly Brief April 18th

World Uyghur Congress, 18 April 2019

Volkswagen CEO Claims He is “Not Aware” of the Uyghur Situation in China

During his interview with BBC news reporter Robin Brant, the Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess says he is “not aware” that the company’s business partner- Chinese government is currently locking up over a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in political internment camps.

The WUC along with the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) together issued a press release both in German and English to show their concern and asked VW to abide by and respect its own principles and Code of Conduct which explicitly sets out the respect for internationally recognized human rights and the support for respecting these rights.

The WUC also wrote an open letter to Mr Diess to update him on the Uyghur situation and asked him to address WUC questions regarding the companies the principles, such as

  • “What steps have been taken by Volkswagen AG to ensure its operations do not contravene, directly or indirectly, human rights norms for local populations?”
  • “How does the Volkswagen AG ensure non-discrimination in its hiring practices?”
  • “Have Uyghur employees been removed from their positions to be sent to political
    indoctrination camps?”

Although many may wish to close their eyes and cover their ears in the face of Chinese governments crimes, it remains the role of the international community as a collective to stand up to rights abuses on such a vast scale. The business world in particular cannot escape complicity if it continues to play the role of innocent bystander.

European Parliament Passed Urgency Resolution On Ethnic And Religious Minorities In China

On April 18th, the European Parliament passed an important resolution which focuses on calling the EU to take substantive action and contained a number of important provisions. The resolution includes calling on China to close the political internment camps and to release details of those who have disappeared in East Turkistan to their families. Many Members of the European Parliament delivered strong speeches during the discussion calling for the camps to be closed and for the EU to hold China accountable for human rights abuses.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs/ Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini also spoke during the session stating that human rights concerns, especially the situation in East Turkistan, were substantively raised during the EU-China Summit and Human Rights Dialogue. In particular, Ms. Mogherini called on EU Member states to raise human rights issues in their bilateral relations with China. The WUC hopes that this resolution will bring positive change to the current Uyghur crisis.

WUC Contests the Incorrect Blacklisting of Uyghur Activists from Financial Database

The WUC recently learned that the WUC president Dolkun Isa and two other senior members had been blacklisted on World Check financial database after the organisation listed to false accusations from the Chinese government claiming they were linked to terrorism. This incorrect classification has made it difficult for these individuals and the WUC to transfer money. The WUC and those are planning affected are planning to take legal action as they have endured great trouble transferring donations internationally since 2008 and have seen money being deducted for unknown reasons.

In the past the owners of World-Check have been successfully sued and force to issue apologies and pay damages to a number of organisations and individuals that were listed under the “terrorism” category on the database. The Chinese government has used accusations of terrorism to try and exclude or persecution Uyghur human rights activists, but investigations by numerous national governments and Interpol have found China’s to be completely unfounded and politically motivated.

Chinese Authorities Increases Uyghur Suppression In Uyghur Region

According to the Epoch Times article, the Chinese authorities in East Turkistan are forcing the Uyghur residents to form “Anti -Terrorist” units as a new mean of suppression.

The Epoch Times found a leaked document detailing the extent of Uyghur suppression in the capital city Urumqi. The residents in Uyghur suburbs are forced to form a “10- household anti – terrorist units” where they are equipped with a large wooden stick, whistle, and one a button alarm to use against the called “terrorist.” Such programs have existed since August 2014, deployed in different parts of East Turkistan.

According to former residents of East Turkistan, some of them are forced to undergo alarm exercises and if anyone was late to these training three times or failed to memorize the required information then they were sent to political internment camps.

The WUC spokesperson told the Epoch Times that the “10-household” program is a mechanism for Uyghurs to inform on each other to monitor each other for the state, if one household is in trouble the other nine households will be implicated and send to the camps.

Chinese Authorities Transfers Uyghur Detainees to Prisons in Mainland China

According to Radio Free Asia’s recent report, as many as 1,200 Uyghur detainees have been secretly transferred from East Turkistan to a prison in Chinese province Gansu. Since last year October, RFA has been covering stories on Uyghur detainees being transferred to other prisons in mainland China. International human rights organisations are worried that the Chinese government is trying to cover up its crime against humanity by transferring Uyghur detainees to other province in China in order to address the “overflow” in the political indoctrination camps in East Turkistan where there are up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are arbitrarily detained.

As global condemnation over the camp network has grown, including calls for international observers to be allowed into the Uyghur region to investigate the situation there, reports suggest that authorities may be transferring detainees to other parts of China as part of a bid to obfuscate the scale of detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region.