Briefing on Uyghur Human Rights at Congress
This Thursday, IUHRDF’s President, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, joined a panel to brief the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Uyghur human rights in Eastern Turkistan and abroad. Panelist discussed human rights in Eastern Turkistan and China’s effort to control the Uyghurs and offered recommendations on how the US can protect Uyghur human rights. Members of congress, – TLHRC co-chairs Randy Hultgren and James McGovern – Uyghur activists, congressional staff and members of the media attended the panel. The other panelists included Alim Seytoff from Radio Free Asia, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian from Foreign Policy and Sophie Richardson from Human Rights Watch. Thomas Lum, the Congressional Research Service’s Specialist in Asian Affairs, moderated the panel.
Ms. Kadeer briefed the commission on the current plight of the Uyghur people – putting particular emphasis on the detention of Uyghurs in “re-education” centers, the detention of her children and grandchildren, the imprisonment of Buzainaf Abudourexit, in addition to other major human rights abuses in Eastern Turkistan. Ms. Kadeer recommended that the United States government raise these issues during talks with China, investigate the detention of Uyghurs in “re-education” centers, and ultimately call for China to halt its human rights abuses in Eastern Turkistan. During the Q&A, Ms. Kadeer raised the plight of the Uyghur children left without parents because of China’s detention policies and implored the international community to act to ensure the safety of those children.
Following the briefing, Ms. Kadeer attended the 2017 Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize Ceremony where anti-genocide activist Father Patrick Desbois received this year’s prize. Ms. Kadeer is the the 2016 Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize recipient.
“Re-education” centers in Eastern Turkistan
China’s massive “re-education” campaign has resulted in the detention of tens of thousands of Uyghurs accused of harboring “extremist” and political incorrect” views. These centers – really prisons – are a part of China’s efforts to punish and indoctrinate Uyghurs who have engaged in or supported cultural and religious practices, Uyghur language education, traveling abroad or having family abroad, or otherwise suspected of not being completely loyal to the CCP. Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service reported this Thursday that those detained include elderly Uyghurs and that officials in the Hotan prefecture have been issued quotas requiring them to send 40 percent of area residents to these “re-education” camps.
The IUHRDF is concerned for the plight of those in detention in those “re-education” centers and distressed about how those detentions are affecting Uyghur children who are suffering in overcrowded orphanages and may be unable to reunite with their parents even after their release from the “re-education” camps. During a hearing this week hosted by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress, Ms. Kadeer brought attention to the plight to the Uyghur children, calling for the international community to investigate the “re-education” camps and act immediately to protect the human rights of Uyghurs.
Xi Jinping’s elevation to Moa status in the Chinese Constitution
Earlier this week, China’s Communist Congress formally elevated Xi Jinping to the same status as Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping by writing his name into the Chinese constitution and ensuring Xi’s extended stay in power. Xi’s incorporation into the Constitution makes the most powerful Chinse leader in decades as he sets course to make China a world superpower. The move may provide him with unlimited power as he works to realize his aspirations.
IUHRDF is concerned that Xi Jinping’s ambitions will only further deteriorate the situation in Eastern Turkistan as suffering and human rights abuses in the Uyghur region have dramatically escalated since Xi came into power. We believe that Xi’s growing influence in the world has dramatic consequences not only for the plight of the Uyghur people but for Western powers as China gains economic and political influence through its One Belt One Road Initiative.
Ethnic Uyghur Pakistanis detained by Pakistan’s security forces
Three ethnic Uyghur Pakistani activists and residents of Rawalpindi were detained by Pakistani security forces on October 17, just days before the 19th Chinese Party Congress in Bejing. Mohammad Umer Khan, Abdukeyim Shemsidin and Abdugeni’s whereabouts are unknown.
IUHRDF believes it isn’t a coincidence that these Uyghur activists were detained two days prior to China’s 19th Communist Party Congress. China has for years, as a precautionary measure, detained outspoken Uyghurs in Eastern Turkistan prior to important national conferences and ceremonies. Authorities would either release those detained individuals after the event without any excuse or charge or detain them further under false charges. Uyghurs witnessed the detention of thousands of their people in “re-education” centers prior to the 19th Congress. IUHRDF suspects that the arrests of the ethnic Uyghur activists in Pakistan are related to China’s arrest of Uyghurs within its borders. We are concerned about China reaching out beyond its borders to persecute Uyghurs and ethnic Uyghur citizens of other countries and call upon Pakistan and other countries not to cooperate with China in its persecution of Uyghurs.