WUC Remembers Victims on International Day for Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Press Release – For immediate release
29 August 2013
Contact: World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or [email protected] 

The UN International Day for Victims of Enforced Disappearances is one of the most important in the UN commemorative calendar. This longstanding practice has been used by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against Uyghurs has had devastating effects upon them, in particular since July 2009 where possibly thousands of Uyghurs have subsequently been disappeared. The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) would therefore like to use this occasion to remind the international community of the ongoing enforced disappearances of Uyghur in East Turkestan, and to call upon them to urge the PRC to establish an investigation so as to hold those responsible to account.

The 30 August was declared by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 65/2009 to be the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. It was established as a timely initiative to raise awareness of those who have been forcibly disappeared amidst increasing use of this crime against humanity. The adoption of this resolution coincided with the coming into force of International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and thus enshrining into international law the legal framework to prevent such a crime.

The PRC has not ratified the Convention on Enforced disappearances  in spite of mounting evidence of the practice’s wide-spread usage. Since July 2009 when peaceful protests demonstrating for better rights for Uyghurs and against the deaths of 18 Uyghur migrant workers at a toy factory in Shaoguan, Southern China, possibly thousands of people have disappeared, frequently after having been involved or connect to those protests.

The WUC has documented more than 30 cases of Uyghurs who have been forcibly disappeared in this regard. “The WUC continues to receive countless reports from concerned Uyghurs in East Turkestan whose loved ones have disappeared, some for longer than 4 years now, “ WUC President Ms Kadeer said. The Uyghur Human Rights Project has also written on this issue in their report, “To Strike the Strongest Blow.” Likewise, Human Rights Watch reported 43 other cases in October 2009, though its Asia Director, Brad Adams, asserted that HRW’s figure was “likely to be the tip of the iceberg.”

This impunity is devastating thousands of lives. Relatives do not know whether their loved ones are alive in prison, whether they were tried before a court or not, and whether they were tortured or dead, nor do they possess any knowledge of their whereabouts. Knowing answers to these questions are at the very core of the principles of the rule of law, yet the PRC is determined to flout its international obligations,” Ms Kadeer continued.

The fear of being forcibly disappeared often results in violations of other human rights due to the interconnectedness of such a human rights violation with other fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, freedom from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to humane conditions of detention, the right to a legal personality, right to a fair trial, right to a family life and in certain cases the right to life.

Rather than setting up an investigation into the incident, the reported human rights violations and the many cases of enforced disappearances so as to find a durable solution, the PRC’s National People’s Council passed a variety of widely-criticised amendments – in particular to Articles 73, 83 and 91 – to its Criminal Procedure Laws which came into effect on 1 January 2013 that have effectively legalised the already wide-spread practice.

Signing or ratifying the Convention on Enforced Disappearances would go some way towards showing the international community that the PRC is serious in wanting to address and provide redress for the widespread use of enforced disappearances, as well as to illustrating a meaningful willingness to upholding the highest standards of human rights and legal safeguards against the practice.

Although the PRC has not signed nor ratified the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, it is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which contains many of the provisions in the Convention on Enforced Disappearances. The PRC is also bound by international law to not undertake any measures that would run contrary to the purpose and objective of the ICCPR as a result of its signature. The passing of these Amendments to its Criminal Procedure Law is therefore in contravention to its obligations under international law.