World Uyghur Congress (WUC) Facing DDoS Cyber Attacks, Electronic Spamming and Telephone Blockade Ahead of 5 July 2009 Anniversary
In the days preceding the 2nd anniversary of the events of 5 July 2009 in Urumqi, East Turkestan, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is facing severe cyber attacks, electronic spamming and telephone blockades originating in China.
As reported on 1 July 2011, WUC´s website www.uyghurcongress.org has been inaccessible since 28 June 2011 through massive “Distributed Denial-of-Service” (DDoS) attacks originating in China. This is a type of cyber attack aimed at putting a site out-of-service, by submerging it with unnecessary and extremely increased traffic, leading to the collapse of the site. In order to be able to distribute information on the 5 July protest actions and commemoration events, on 1 July 2011 the WUC created a temporary webpage/blog at WordPress https://uyghurcongress.wordpress.com/. However, on 3 July, the WUC received a message from the WordPress team, saying that since its creation the page has been under a constant DDoS and other types of hacker attacks, aiming to making the site unavailable to visitors. In addition, other Uyghur website is currently off-line due to DDoS attacks. Hackers are also spamming WUC´s e-mail account with thousands of e-mails in less than two days.
A part from the cyber attacks, since 2 July 2011, several WUC-related phone lines are blocked through constant incoming calls. The affected phone lines are: WUC´s office landline as well as landline and mobile phone of members of the WUC leadership both in Europe and the US are affected.
The WUC harshly condemns China´s attempts to block its work. Mr. Isa said that “it is worrying to see that China is not even refraining from applying its online censorship tactics abroad and to pass its national borders when it tries to silence dissent and opposition voices. With these kind of actions, the Chinese government seeks to suppress any information that contradicts its official narrative about 5 July 2009 and to hamper WUC´s activities planned around the world to commemorate the victims of 5 July and to protest against the Chinese government´s prohibition on conducting an independent investigation into the events.”
It is not the first time that WUC´s work has been obstructed through cyber attacks or other forms of harassment. Last year, in the days preceding the first 5 July anniversary, WUC´s office telephone line was completely blocked through constant calls from a non-identifiable number. In late 2009, WUC´s website was entirely destroyed through hacker and virus attacks.
These kinds of attacks respond to China´s official propaganda strategy. On 28 June 2011, several German newspaper, among them Frankfurter Rundschau and Berliner Zeitung published parts of secret internal documents of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in which China´s propaganda strategy within the country and abroad was determined. According to these documents, one of the key concerns of the CPC is the maintenance of the information monopole and in consequence “all illegal and harmful information from Chinese and overseas websites have to be completely blocked and deleted.” In addition, the “margin of the Tibetan and Uighur movements to act internationally, must be reduced.”
In a press release from 28 June 2011, the Society for Threatened Peoples harshly condemned both CPC´s propaganda strategy abroad as well as China´s attempts to block STP´s work, for example within the frame of the UN Human Rights Council where Chinese diplomats regularly try to hamper and block STP´s interventions.
Where to access WUC´s activities and work?
The activities planned on and around the second 5 July anniversary are available both at WUC´s usual and temporary websites and on the website of the Uyghur American Association (UAA). In addition, the WUC is posting all information on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/uyghurcongress and Twitter https://twitter.com/UyghurCongress.
Background on 5 July 2009:
On July 5, 2009, Chinese security forces brutally suppressed a peaceful protest by Uyghurs in Urumqi, the regional capital of East Turkestan, and killed an untold number of protestors. Ethnic unrest and violence followed, as well as one of the Chinese government’s fiercest and most repressive crackdowns on Uyghurs in history.
The human rights violations that the Chinese authorities have perpetrated against the Uyghurs in the aftermath of the July 2009 incidents have included but have not been limited to: mass and arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances of Uyghurs (including of minors); arbitrary sentencing of Uyghurs to death, life, and various jail terms after trials plagued with intense politicization and strangleholds on due process; arbitrary executions; and intensified repression of freedom of expression, including but not limited to the detention and sentencing of Uyghur webmasters, bloggers, and journalists.