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Uyghur American Association calls on Secretary Kerry to raise Uyghur human rights concerns at U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 18:56 -- Kanat
 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

For immediate release
July 8, 2014, 5:45 pm EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) asks U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to raise Uyghur human rights issues with Chinese counterparts at the July 9-10 U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. UAA urges Secretary Kerry:

“The U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue is an opportunity for U.S. officials to seek responses from Chinese officials to human rights concerns. There is a trail of Chinese government human rights violations against the Uyghur people for which those responsible should be held to account,” said Alim Seytoff in a statement from Washington, DC.

“The Uyghur people have no voice with which to express their concerns, especially since the onset of the one-year anti-terror campaign in May. Moderate dissenters are harshly imprisoned, the Internet is heavily censored and freedom of expression is routinely abused. It is under these conditions that those with the available forum can make a difference in the lives of millions of Uyghurs.”

UAA is concerned that a May 23, 2014 announcement of a one-year anti-terror campaign in East Turkestan has resulted in a systemic human rights violations in East Turkestan.

Since May 23, Chinese authorities have followed through on the crackdown and Chinese and overseas media have reported on a series of region wide “Cultural Revolution-style” mass trials, death sentences, and executions:

  • Chinese government announces on May 25 the detention of over 200 suspects and the breaking up of “23 terror and religious extremism groups” during May in Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu prefectures (Xinhua, The Guardian).

  • On May 27, BBC reports the detention of five suspects in Hotan alleged to be members of a “terror group” (Xinhua).

  • Amnesty International calls the public sentencing in Ghulja of 55 people a “[s]hameful stadium ‘show trial’” in a May 29 press release. In front of 7,000 people, of the 55, three people were handed death sentences (BBC).

  • China Central Television broadcasts the sentencing of eighty-one people on June 5. Nine were given death sentences and three others death sentences with two-year reprieves. The trials were held in six cities across the region (The New York Times, BBC).

  • On June 5, Xinjiang Net reports the detention of 29 suspects in Urumchi for “inciting separatism and other crimes” (The New York Times, BBC).

  • The New York Times reports that three Uyghurs are sentenced to death for their role in an alleged “terror” attack on October 28, 2013 in Beijing. Five others were given sentences ranging from five years to life.

  • On June 16, state media outlet, China Daily details how since May 23 Chinese public security forces have detained 60 suspects, who allegedly “belonged to nine terrorist-related gangs plus one religious extremist group.”

  • A June 23 report in The New York Times cites a Legal Daily article describing the breaking up of “32 terrorist groups and the sentencing of 315 people to prison terms, death row or other punishment…The sentences were handed out in 120 separate court cases.” These measures were all taken since the announcement of the one-year crackdown. The New York Times report adds the information “could not be independently confirmed, and official versions of violent events in Xinjiang are often murky.”

  • Reuters details the public sentencing of nine people “for up to 14 years” at a public sentencing in front of 3,000 people. In the same article, Reuters describes how Chinese authorities in Chapchal issued arrest warrants for 25 people and announced the detention of 14 other suspects.

  • Citing Chinese state media, a June 30 report in Al Jazeera details how 113 people were sentenced from between 14 years to life for “inciting ethnic hatred and belonging to a ‘terrorist organization.’” The sentences were handed down in the Kashgar region.

  • Four people are charged with “murder and terrorism” for their alleged roles in a March 1 attack on Kunming train station (BBC).

  • Legal Daily announces that 40 “violent terror gangs” and 400 people have been “taken down” since the May 23, 2014 announcement of a one-year crackdown on terror (Reuters).

All of the above measures were undertaken in just over six weeks and indicate a widespread and possibly arbitrary crackdown is underway in East Turkestan. While UAA is unequivocally opposed to all forms of violence, UAA is concerned that due process of law has not been observed in these cases, given the speed and atmosphere of retribution in the region. Furthermore, China’s lack of transparency in so called terrorism cases and conflation between peaceful dissent and violence is call for concern over the legitimacy of the current crackdown.