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U.S. State Department report details widespread human rights abuses against the Uyghur people

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 21:13 -- Kanat
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks about the annual State Department Human Rights report, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at the State Department in Washington.

For immediate release
February 28, 2014, 1:20pm EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur American Association commends the U.S. State Department on the findings of its 2013 Annual Report of Human Rights Practices in China. The report is a damning indictment of the Chinese government’s human rights record not only towards the Uyghur people, but also people throughout China.

The Executive Summary of the report highlights the pervasive rights violations in East Turkestan (also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region):

"There was severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and assembly of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and of ethnic Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas."

Alim Seytoff, President of the Uyghur American Association said in a statement from Washington, DC: “The U.S. State Department’s human rights report on China unmasks the devastation the Chinese Communist Party has wrought across East Turkestan in 65 years of rule. The record of the Chinese party-state towards Uyghur human rights is highlighted as abysmal and shows that the Chinese Communists have deliberately targeted Uyghurs.”

Mr. Seytoff added: “Given this clear evidence of the destabilization Chinese policies in East Turkestan have caused, you would think Chinese officials might listen to Uyghurs with constructive criticism. Instead, as is the case with Ilham Tohti and a host of other dissenting Uyghur voices, the Chinese state chooses to fabricate charges against them and lock them up into silence.”

The 2013 Annual Report of Human Rights Practices in China details a broad range of rights concerns regarding Uyghurs, including: enforced disappearances; jailing of political dissidents, journalists and webmasters; repression of independent religious leaders; forced abortions; destruction of cultural heritage; restrictions of movement and formidable obstacles in obtaining a passport; tight controls on freedom of expression, particularly on the internet; marginalization of the Uyghur language in education and society; pressures exerted on foreign governments to refoul refugees; targeted surveillance; and suppression of non-state sanctioned religious association and assembly.

The report also emphasized the tensions created by the Chinese government’s encouragement of Han Chinese migration to East Turkestan, as well as resentments caused by the exclusion of Uyghurs from political and economic decision-making bodies.

"The government’s policy to encourage Han Chinese migration into minority areas significantly increased the population of Han in the XUAR. In recent decades the Han-Uighur ratio in the capital of Urumqi reversed from 20/80 to 80/20 and continued to be a source of Uighur resentment…

…Han control of the region’s political and economic institutions also contributed to heightened tension."

The State Department described how Han Chinese migration to East Turkestan had resulted in: “Discriminatory hiring practices [that] gave preference to Han and reduced job prospects for ethnic minorities…[while] local officials coerced young Uighur women to participate in a government-sponsored labor transfer program to cities outside the XUAR, according to overseas human rights organizations.” Furthermore, the report detailed the inequitable distribution of state measures to stimulate economic development in the region: “Although government policies continued to allot economic investment in and brought economic improvements to the XUAR, Han residents received a disproportionate share of the benefits.”

Individual Uyghurs cases of concern to the State Department and featured in the report include: Memetjan Abdulla, Ablikim Abdureyim, Nijat Azat, Abdulla Jamal, Dilshat Perhat, Dilkex Tilivaldi, Ilham Tohti, Nurmuhemmet Yasin and Abduhelil Zunun.

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