Weekly Brief August 30

World Uyghur Congress, 30 August 2019

August 30: Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Beginning in 2011, the international community has dedicated August 30 as an opportunity to raise awareness of enforced disappearances.

This year, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) alongside more than two dozen human rights organizations issued a joint statement calling on the Chinese government to stop all forms of enforced disappearance and urging all states to ensure that victims of enforced disappearance by the Chinese state, whether within the People’s Republic of China or elsewhere, are protected.

Ömer Kanat, WUC Executive Committee Chairman and Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, published an op-ed in the Hong Kong Free Press on August 30 calling on the United Nations to recognize that China is committing serious violation of international human rights standards which are being used as a strategy to spread terror within Uyghur society.

The WUC further reminded the global public through the social media campaign #FacesoftheDisappeared on Facebook and Twitter of a number of Uyghurs who were disappeared by the Chinese government between 2017 and today. These cases include Adil Mijit, a 55-year-old famous Uyghur comedian, who was disappeared in Ururmqi, the capital city of the Uyghur region, in November last year and Gulgine Tashmemet, a PhD student at the University of Technology in Malaysia, who remains disappeared since December 2017, after returning to her hometown in East Turkistan.

China Keeps Bullying NGOs at the United Nations

The WUC is deeply troubled by China’s most recent unfounded assertions spread at the UN Geneva offices. The Chinese delegation to the UN in Geneva this week circulated a Note Verbale containing unsubstantiated claims against WUC President Dolkun Isa. The document calls him “a notorious anti-China secessionist and terrorist”. The letter further asks UN member states not to meet with WUC representatives.

In response, the WUC issued a press release quoting Mr. Isa: “It is no surprise that China continues desperately to try to silence mere conversation about their appalling treatment of Uyghurs.” The WUC President also remarked that this reaction “shows clearly how deeply nervous the Chinese government is about activists speaking about the reality on the ground. We have an obligation to continue to speak honestly and transparently about it.”

The Chinese claims are groundless. The Chinese side has never succeeded in providing any kind of evidence for their accusations. Furthermore, the Interpol Red Notice previously attached to Mr. Isa was deleted in 2018 when it was determined that the charges were purely the result of China’s use of the organization to target critics.

The press release continues that “such claims seek to intimidate individuals and groups who aim to protect and promote human rights. They run counter to international standards and warrant an immediate response from the UN human rights system.”

Inside Information Indicates the World Bank May Have Been Involved in Repression of Uyghurs

A $50 million World Bank loan dedicated to the improvement of school facilities and equipment in the Uyghur region was, according to independent investigative research, misused by the Chinese authorities to purchase tear gas launchers and other high-end security gear worth approximately $30,000.

The World Bank ignored an internal request for review in July 2019. A World Bank employee wrote a detailed email to an executive director, requesting that the program be referred to an internal inspection committee in order to evaluate whether World Bank rules were being followed.

On August 23, the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) officially raised questions with the World Bank President David Malpass as to the possible overlap between the institutions funded by the loan and the internment camp system. U.S. Representative James McGovern and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, CECC Chair and Cochair, further asked Mr. Malpass whether any investigation has been conducted by the World Bank into potential misappropriation of funds for use in the mass internment system. Following this reaction from the United States, who is the World Bank’s single biggest donor, the international institution promised “to provide comprehensive answers”.

Chinese Professor To Be Investigated in Australia for Supporting Uyghur Surveillance

Heng Tao Shen, a Chinese professor at the University of Queensland, Australia, built Koala AI into a $200 million company that provides surveillance technology used by the Chinese government to monitor Uyghurs in East Turkistan.

As Professor Shen did not inform the Australian university of the positions he held within China’s education sector or of the commercial use of his publicly funded research in Australia, he will now be scrutinized for his actions by the University of Queensland.