For immediate release
September 29, 2014, 10:45am EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 478 1920
On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the 59th anniversary of the establishment of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on October 1, 2014, the Uyghur American Association calls on China to respect the rule of law in East Turkestan and to practice international legal standards in the region.
“The Chinese government must respect its founding principles, including freedom, justice, equality and self-determination for the Uyghur people,” said UAA president, Alim Seytoff in a statement. “The PRC was founded as a multiethnic and multicultural state in order to guarantee the rights of different ethnic groups, cultures, languages and religious beliefs, not to destroy them to create a homogenous state in the interest of the Han majority.”
Mr. Seytoff added: “To become a great and respectable country, and especially a country accepted by persecuted ethnic groups, such as the Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongolians, China must respect its constitution, regional ethnic autonomy laws, and genuinely embrace multiculturalism. China’s imperialistic forced assimilation policies will not peacefully integrate the once sovereign and independent Uyghur people. State terrorism against a peace-loving people will not unify the state, but shatter it.”
“To show its goodwill towards the Uyghur people, China must immediately and unconditionally release all Uyghur prisoners of conscience, starting with Uyghur professor, Ilham Tohti and linguist, Abduweli Ayup, who have been sentenced in the weeks leading up to this anniversary.”
UAA is troubled that a May 23, 2014 announcement of a one-year anti-terror campaign in East Turkestan has resulted in human rights violations in East Turkestan.
Overseas media reports cited Xinjiang party chief, Zhang Chunxian as stating the anti-terror crackdown will employ “unconventional measures.” Since May 23, Chinese and overseas media have described a series of region wide mass trials, death sentences, and executions. 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.
In addition, in a report dated September 8, 2014, AP raised the probability “that Chinese police are excessively using deadly force” during security operations aimed at Uyghurs. China’s lack of transparency in so-called terrorism cases and conflation between peaceful dissent and violence is also call for concern over the legality of the current crackdown.
The legal process concerning the case of Professor Ilham Tohti has been heavily criticized. Ilham Tohti was found guilty on charges of “separatism” and sentenced to life imprisonment on September 23, 2014 after a two-day trial, which Human Rights Watch called a “travesty of justice.” The September 17-18 trial and sentencing of Ilham Tohti was also condemned by the United States, the European Union, and Amnesty International, among others.
At the sixty-ninth session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention held between April 22 and May 1, 2014, a panel of five human rights experts rendered the opinion that Ilham Tohti’s deprivation of liberty since January 15, 2014 is arbitrary.
The Working Group cited China’s violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Mr. Tohti’s case—in particular, articles 9, 10, 11, 18, 19, 20 and 21.
In an article dated August 26, 2014, Radio Free Asia reported Uyghur linguist, Abduweli Ayup had been sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined approximately USD 13,000. Abduweli Ayup is being held in Urumchi’s Liu Dao Wan prison, a facility notorious for torture and forced confessions of Uyghur political prisoners.