Weekly Brief November 10th

World Uyghur Congress, 10 November 2017

German City of Weimar Experiences Cyber Attack After Awarding Ilham Tohti

The city of Weimar, Germany, who awarded imprisoned Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti the Weimar Human Rights Prize in June of this year, has experienced repeated attacks on its official website, removing all news of the award from the site. Although the source of the attacks are not yet fully clear, past experience indicates that the actions very likely lead back to the Chinese government.

In addition to the online attacks, the Weimar’s City Council’s Human Rights Prize Committee received a phone call from a man from the Chinese embassy in Berlin alleging that Tohti is a “Chinese Criminal” and claiming his work is unrelated to human rights. The city also learned that following the announcement of the award, officials in Beijing protested to Berlin through diplomatic channels.

Professor Tohti was initially arrested in January 2014 and is now serving a life sentence for “separatism” in a trial that was described by Human Rights Watch as a “travesty of justice”. His life sentence was described by Amnesty International as “deplorable” with “no basis in reality”.

WUC Issues Press Release Calling on US President Trump to Raise Human Rights During Trip to China

In anticipation of the US President Trump’s first official visit to China this past week, the WUC issued a press release calling on the US President to stand firm on past principles of openness and tolerance as well as public support for human rights at home and abroad. The press release stated that Trump should make explicit the United States’ longstanding commitment to supporting the vulnerable and the voiceless in any society – this time he must call on China to cease its unending campaign against the Uyghur population in East Turkestan.

The United States remains a critical voice on the world stage and this week’s visit presented an opportunity to push back against Chinese efforts to undermine civil society, jail human rights lawyers, decimate religious and cultural rights for millions, and reach far beyond its borders to influence the treatment of activists overseas and at international institutions.

Whomever occupies the White House has an obligation to call on the Chinese government to protect and respect the rights of their own people. It is therefore incumbent upon the Trump administration to match its rhetoric with a concrete approach that shows that the United States will not sit idly by while millions are deprived of their right to basic cultural expression, children are deprived an education in their mother tongue, prominent academics endure life sentences for baseless charges, or Nobel Peace Prize laureates die in detention.

Chinese Authorities Introduce Absurd New Measures to Combat ‘Extremism’

It has been reported this week that Chinese authorities in East Turkestan have adopted even more absurd and oppressive measures to combat ‘extremism’ including detaining Uyghurs based on the color of their hair, the postures they adopt while they pray and how they wear their watches. This marks a further escalation in the oppressive policies targeting the Uyghur people’s freedom of religion and right to peacefully practice their religion.

It was also reported that a 67-year-old Uyghur man has been sentenced to prison for 10 years on charges of ‘religious extremism’ for scolding his son for drinking alcohol and breaking Islamic tradition 13 years ago. This unjust detention not only constitutes a grave violation to freedom of religion, but also punishes this man for being a father to his child.