Weekly Brief April 8th
World Uyghur Congress, 8 April 2019
WUC Participates in Mass Uyghur Rally in Washington D.C.
The World Uyghur Congress participated in a large scale rally in Washington D.C., joining hundreds of Uyghur demonstrators, the Uyghur Human Rights Project and many other Uyghur and Muslim organisations. The rally aimed to gather support for upcoming legislative initiatives on the Uyghur issue in the U.S. government and to urge the U.S. government to take further concrete action.
WUC President Dolkun Isa and Executive Chairman Omer Kanat both delivered speeches at the rally, along with numerous other activists and organisations. Mr. Isa called on the US to work with other sympathetic governments to collectively call on China to close the internment camps and urged the US to be an example to other states by being the first to impose targeted sanctions on culpable Chinese officials.
In an encouraging development, US Senator Marco Rubio and other US officials published a joint press release indicating they were leading a bipartisan group of 24 Senators & 19 Representatives in urging for stronger sanctions, export controls and financial disclosures to counter Chinese human rights abuses in East Turkistan.
WUC Called on Canadian Government to Take Action on Camps Issue
WUC representatives Dolkun Isa (President of the WUC), Mehmet Tohti (WUC Representative in Canada) and Project Manager Pete Irwin participated in a series of events last week aimed at rally support for the Uyghur cause and to push the Canadian government to take action on the issue. In meetings with Canadian government officials and at a press conference in Toronto last week, the WUC representatives called on Canada escalate its public condemnation of China and help to co-ordinate an international response to the mass incarceration of Uyghurs, as well as asking the Canadian government to impose targeted sanction on culpable Chinese officials.
Situation in East Turkistan Highlighted During EU-China Human Rights Dialogue
The EEAS, the equivalent of the EU’s foreign ministry, published a press release following the 37th EU-China Human Rights Dialogue which took place on 1-2 April. The persecution of Uyghurs and Tibetans was highlighted in particular by the EU delegation.
The EU raised a number of individual cases and called for the release of a number of Uyghur political prisoners, activists and academics including Ilham Tohti, Tashpolat Tiyip, Rahile Dawut, Eli Mamut, Hailaite Niyazi, Memetjan Abdulla, Abduhelil Zunun, and Abdukerim Abduweli.
The press release also noted that the EU delegation highlighted the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in internment camps as a worrying development and called on China to allow meaningful, unsupervised and unrestricted access to East Turkistan for independent observers. Crucially, the EU also stressed that all detained individuals must be allowed to be represented by a lawyer of their choosing, be able to meet family members, have access to appropriate medical assistance & have allegations of their torture & mistreatment promptly investigated.
The EU-China Dialogue precedes the EU-China Summit, which takes place on April 9th. The WUC will join the International Campaign for Tibet and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation in a joint demonstration on the day of the Summit, to urge that the EU make human rights concerns a priority
Chinese Government Continues to Demolish Mosques in East Turkistan
Last week, the issue of the destruction of places of religious and historical significance in East Turkistan by the Chinese government was highlighted after a tweet was published, showing through satellite imagery that the Keriya mosque in Hotan had been recently demolished. The destruction of mosques and other historical or religious sites is not a new phenomenon in East Turkistan. In recent years, the Chinese government has destroyed thousands of mosques and much of old Kashgar, as part of its campaign of total assimilation and control. However, this process is continuing at an alarming pace. Buildings that have stood for hundreds of years or that had immense importance to the local communities are now being erased completely.
British MPs Write Joint Letter to Chinese Ambassador Expressing Concerns About Human Rights
A bipartisan group of 9 British parliamentarians issued a joint letter to the Chinese Ambassador in the UK, urging China to stop the mistreatment of Uyghurs and to close the internment camps arbitrarily detaining over 1 million Uyghurs. The WUC sincerely thanks them for their initiative and for publicly raising this issue with the Chinese government.
Furthermore, the Foreign Affairs Committee in the UK House of Commons also published a report on the UK’s relations with China, in which they express deep concern about the situation in East Turkistan and call on the UK government to take a number of important steps to improve the situation.