Category Archives: Eastern Turkestan

July 2019 Open Letter to the International Olympic Organizing Committee

To add your signature to this open letter, please visit this link and add a comment at the bottom of the post.

Dear International Olympic Committee members,

The whole world is aware of the human rights abuses committed by the government of the Peoples Republic of China. Well documented abuses include the suppression of religious activities (including bull-dozing churches, mosques, and temples,) millions detained in ‘re-education’ camps and a mass surveillance system the East German Stasi only wished they had.

The policies of the government of the Peoples Republic of China are the antithesis of Olympism philosophy.

  • Continued attempts to eradicate Tibetan, Mongolian, Turkic Muslim (including Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks,) and others’ cultures and languages removes tens of millions from being able to share or educate others about their culture or history.
  • There is no joy of the effort expended in sport when minority athletes are jailed when they return from training overseas as covered in the media concerning two (2) young Uyghur soccer players (1) (2). The chilling prospect of imprisonment for training overseas does not resemble Olympism; striving for excellence in performing extra training should be applauded, not punished.
  • As far as the ‘respect for universal fundamental ethical principles,’ the government of the Peoples Republic of China violates many of the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a matter of public policy, not some secret plan. The ‘re-training’ camps holding millions of Turkic Muslims is a clear example. One has to wonder why so many Uyghur intellectuals need to be ‘re-trained’? Why are retired medical doctors being ‘re-trained’? There should be no illusion these draconian measures are anything but cultural genocide against peoples with over a thousand years of their own history.

When Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympiad, the world was told how it would help bring China into the ‘fold of nations’ and their behaviors would change. The government of the Peoples Republic of China wasn’t listening and was emboldened to enact even further draconian measures against law abiding citizens for a difference of opinion or their ethnicity.

We, the undersigned, believe the location of the 2022 Winter Olympiad should be changed due to the egregious behavior of the host nation towards its own citizens and the appalling human rights abuses, including the internment of millions of their own citizens based on ethnicity alone. In 1936, Hitler had not started to murder his victims, but in 2022, you could have done something to affect the host country’s behavior.

RFA: Uyghur Man Dies in Xinjiang Internment Camp After Sacking Over Muslim Prayers

A young Uyghur man from Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), has died in an internment camp after being fired from his job because of his Muslim faith, according to sources.

An anonymous source recently sent a letter to RFA’s Uyghur Service claiming that Alimjan Emet, 22, was beaten to death while being interrogated at a camp in Kashgar’s Yengisheher (Shule) county because he had denied praying in secret—an allegation that had earlier led to his removal as an employee at a loan office in his home township of Ermudan.

According to the source, Emet was the son of academics but, after completing high school, failed to gain acceptance to a university and grew depressed. He was able to lift his depression after embracing his Islamic faith, by reading religious texts and listening to spiritual teachings.

“I don’t know the reason he was detained, only that he died within 40 days of being sent to the camp,” the letter said, adding that Emet had been arrested while working as a security guard at the Yengisheher County Party School, where he had been employed since being fired from the Ermudan loan office.

A staff member who answered the phone at the loan office told RFA that Emet had never worked there, and that no employee was ever taken to an internment camp, where authorities are believed to have detained up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017.

But a second staff member, who said he started a job at the loan office last year, told RFA that he had “heard that a young man called Alimjan worked here in the past,” without providing further details.

However, when contacted by RFA, the female director of Women’s Affairs with the Yengisheher county government said that she knew of “a young man who died in an internment camp … [named] Alimjan Emet,” and confirmed that he was “22 or 23” years old.

“His [residency permit] was Ermudan township, and he lived behing Zhangquan Park,” said the director, who also declined to provide her name.

“He worked as a guard at the gate of the Yengisar County Party School.”

While she was able to confirm that Emet had been sent to an internment camp in Yengisar, she did not know which one.

“People said that he died within 40 days [of being sent to the camp],” she said, adding that his body had been returned to his family before being buried—under police supervision—in a graveyard behind Zhangquan Park.

“I heard that the police took preventive measures in guarding the area and assisting with the burial service,” she added.

The director said that Emet “didn’t appear to” suffer from any medical problems before he was detained at the internment camp, suggesting he had been in fine health.

A staff member of the Yengisheher County Party School told RFA that “we all know [Emet,” but said he “cannot provide information about him … to people that I don’t know.”


CFU: No To Beijing 2022

The Campaign for Uyghurs has begun a petition through We the People, and would like to ask for your support. If this petition gets 100,000 signatures within 30 days of its creation, the White House will review its contents and respond. More background information can be found below and on our website.

You can view and sign the petition here:

The U.S. must lead removing hosting rights of the Winter Olympics 2022 from Communist China

Thanks for raising your voice!

RFA: China’s Policy of Mass Detentions in Xinjiang ‘Has Nothing to do With Terrorism’: US Anti-Terror Czar

The mass incarceration of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) “has nothing to do with terrorism,” and is part of a war Beijing is waging on religion, according to Washington’s counter-terrorism czar.

In an interview with RFA’s Uyghur Service, Ambassador Nathan Sales, the U.S. State Department’s Coordinator for Counter-terrorism, dismissed China’s claims that its vast network of internment camps in the region—where authorities are believed to have held up to 1.5 million people since April 2017—is part of a vocational training program that is saving those influenced by religious extremism.

“In addition to the people who are in custody and these forced labor camps there are millions more who are subjected to political re-indoctrination in daytime facilities,” he said.

“The scope of this campaign is so vast and so untargeted that it simply has nothing to do with terrorism. Instead, what’s going on is the Chinese Communist Party is waging war on religion. It is trying to stamp out the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious identities of the people that it’s been targeting.”

Sales also rejected statements from Beijing recently reiterated at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva by XUAR vice governor Erkin Tuniyaz that internment camps in the region had allowed detainees to “gain access to modern knowledge and enhance their employability.”

“You don’t need to send people who have jobs to vocational training centers,” he said.

“Again, the scope of the detentions and the scope of the measures that have been applied to people outside the camps is simply so vast and overwhelming that it belies any claim that this is counter-terrorism or a targeted job training program. It’s repression, plain and simple.”

Regardless, he added, counter-terrorism cannot be used as a pretext for advancing what he called “a domestic agenda of political or religious or ethnic repression,” and said the U.S. is “deeply concerned” by the Chinese government’s “misuse” of the issue to achieve its goals in the XUAR.

Sales stressed that the mass detentions and restrictions on religion in the region are only part of a larger attack by Beijing on an entire culture.

Specifically, he highlighted reports of children of detainees being placed in state-run orphanages, where they are taught only Chinese, regularly have their names changed, and are “effectively being separated from the cultural and linguistic heritage … from which they come,” as an example of how authorities hope to force Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR to assimilate into Han Chinese culture.

RFA: Nearly Two Dozen Nations Urge China to End Mass Incarcerations in Xinjiang at UN Rights Council

Nearly two dozen countries at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council in Geneva have urged China to end mass arbitrary detentions, as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, on Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

“We call on China to uphold its national laws and international obligations and to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion or belief, in Xinjiang and across China,” the representatives of 22 nations said in a joint statement issued earlier this week.

“We call also on China to refrain from the arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement of Uighurs, and other Muslim and minority communities in Xinjiang.”

In an unprecedented move, the countries also called on China to allow the U.N. high commissioner for human rights and other U.N. experts “meaningful access” to the XUAR to investigate the region’s internment camps, where authorities are believed to have detained up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017.

This week’s statement came after the vice governor of the XUAR, Erkin Tuniyaz, defended his government’s policy of incarcerating Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps to the Rights Council, repeating for the U.N. Beijing’s claims that the camps are part of a vocational training program that is saving those influenced by religious extremism.

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.


RFA: Uyghurs Ordered to Destroy Muslim Architecture Deemed ‘Extremist’ by Authorities

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are forcing Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to destroy traditional architectural features used for prayer in their homes as part of a bid to root out “religious extremism,” according to sources.

RFA’s Uyghur Service recently received information suggesting that villagers in Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) county, in the XUAR’s Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, have been forced to remove Muslim ornamentation from buildings in the area, while a video currently circulating on social media purports to show a Uyghur woman using a shovel to tear down a “mihrab” from her ceiling.

Islamic architecture traditionally includes mihrabs, or ornate domed niches built into a wall or ceiling, to denote the correct direction one should face when praying to Mecca.

After contacting sources in various parts of the XUAR to determine how widespread the directive is, officials in Kashgar (Kashi) and Hotan (Hetian) prefectures told RFA that Muslims are being made to carve out the domed shape of mihrabs, or to fill them in completely, lest they face punishment that could include detention in an internment camp.

Authorities are believed to have detained up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in the XUAR’s vast network of camps since April 2017.

The director of a neighbourhood women’s committee in Kashgar city told RFA on condition of anonymity that “the government and [China’s ruling Communist Party] have implemented training courses [on the correct aesthetics] for households.”

When asked whether anyone in the city still has a mihrab in their home, the director said authorities “have corrected everything and no such thing exists now.”

A village party secretary in Hotan prefecture, who also declined to give his name, said that around a year ago, his local Household Committee instructed him to “remove any structures that have the shape of a mihrab” from his home.

“I had the [arch atop the] mihrab carved in the wall reshaped into a square, as ordered,” he said.

“Basically, all the owners of homes containing decorations deemed to be a sign of religious extremism have been ordered to remove them or reconstruct the building by the Household Committee, and all of the homes have to pass re-inspection.”

The party secretary said that teams of five or six people that include police officers, cadres, and government officials “walk around inspecting neighborhood homes” to ensure they meet “requirements.”

In cases where homeowners are unable to reshape the mihrabs in their walls, or where mihrabs were carved into a home’s supporting beams, workers are sent in to demolish the building.

“In Hotan city, all of the buildings have been cleared of these items completely … even those built by rich people,” he said.

“At present, no buildings considered to exemplify classic ethnic characteristics have been left untouched.”

RFA: Uyghur Officials in Hotan Forced to Forgo Halal During Visits of Chinese ‘Relatives’

Uyghur officials in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are regularly visited by Han Chinese “relatives,” who force them to forgo the dietary restrictions of their Muslim faith during weeklong stays, including prohibitions on the consumption of pork and alcohol, according to sources.

RFA’s Uyghur Service spoke with a township and a village secretary of China’s ruling Communist Party in Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture over the weekend who related, on condition of anonymity, their experiences while hosting Chinese minders at their homes on multiple occasions since 2016.

Both said that when the minders, or “relatives,” stay with their families to teach them the Han Chinese language and extol the virtues of Beijing’s policies in the region—often for around one week—they bring alcohol and meat that includes pork, and expect family members to consume them, against the principles of “halal” that govern what Muslims can eat and drink.

The practice of embedding “relatives” in the homes of Uyghurs, which RFA has reported on previously, is seen as part of a bid by authorities to assimilate them into Chinese culture and ensure their loyalty to the central government above all else, including religion.

Those who do not follow the teachings and customs of their minders risk being sent to the XUAR’s vast network of internment camps, where authorities have held an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas since April 2017.

The township party secretary RFA spoke with said that “relatives regularly … bring gifts, alcohol, fruits and meat” when they are sent to the homes of Uyghurs, including officials.

“I haven’t noticed whether pork is included in the meat,” he added about the meals they share, suggesting that the reporter visit the region to speak with local families for additional information.

The village party secretary told RFA that whatever “relatives” bring is cooked and eaten together with the families they stay with, and that asking about whether the food is halal or haram—forbidden according to Islamic dietary restrictions—is frowned upon.


RFA: 10th Anniversary of Urumqi Unrest Brings Protests Over Internment Camps, Accountability Demands

Uyghur exile groups and supporters staged protests calling for an end to China’s harsh crackdown in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on Friday, the 10th anniversary of deadly ethnic riots that led to today’s blanket surveillance and mass internment of Uyghurs and other Muslims.

In Washington, Uyghur groups marched for several hours near the White House, while U.S. lawmakers called on the Trump administration to take concrete steps to hold Chinese officials accountable for the detention of up to 1.5 million Uyghur and other ethnic Muslims in internment camps since April 2017.

In Turkey, home to thousands of Uyghur exiles, Uyghurs and local supporters staged street protests calling for an end to the internment camps.

In Kuala Lumpur, the Muslim Youth Group Malaysia issued a letter to the Chinese embassy but were prevented from delivering it.

“As the world commemorates the 10th anniversary of the July 5th 2009 Urumqi Massacre, we wish to highlight the critical situation of human rights abuses of the Uyghur people and many other minority groups across the Xinjiang area,” read the letter.

“We note that the human rights violations of the Uyghur people and their respective communities have increased significantly resulting in the rapid deterioration of the welfare and wellbeing of the Uyghur people,” it said.

Some 200 people died and 1,700 were injured in the three-day rampage of violence that began on July 5, 2009 in Urumqi between ethnic minority Uyghurs and Han Chinese, according to China’s official figures, although Uyghur rights groups say the numbers are much higher.

“The violent suppression 10 years ago on July 5 of a protest march in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in western China, was a pivotal moment in the struggle of the Uighur people to defend their rights,” Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on July 4.

‘Righteousness will prevail’

“The Chinese government cannot erase Uyghurs from the face of the earth with genocide like the massacre of July 5, with torture in the concentration camps, even with the systematic campaigns designed to exterminate Uyghurs,” Dolkun Isa, president of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, told RFA’s Uyghur Service

“Uyghurs are on the right side of the history and righteousness will prevail,” he added.


RFA: Malaysian Minister Slammed for Comments about Visit to Uyghur Camp

Malaysia’s Islamic Affairs minister has come under sharp criticism after describing a Uyghur internment camp that he visited in China as a “training and vocational center,” while human rights groups and U.S. officials have likened such facilities to concentration camps.

The controversy began during Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s eight-day trip to China, when on June 26 he posted photos on his official Facebook page that showed adults sitting at yellow school desks in a room surrounded with artificial flowers.

The minister declined Tuesday to disclose the location of the camp holding members of the Uyghur Muslim minority or answer other questions from BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service, about his trip.

“The Center is running industrial training activities with various skills such as sewing, legislation, art, flower arrangement and et cetera,” a caption for one of the photos said, adding Mujahid that visited “the training and vocational center of the Uyghur community.”

The posting did not say if the “center” was in the Xinjiang region, where U.N. officials and rights groups said that up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim Turkic minorities had been held in detention camps since April 2017.

Chinese authorities earlier denied the existence of internment camps, but said petty criminals had been sent to “employment training centers.”

On June 27, Amnesty International Malaysia expressed disappointment over the minister’s description of the camp.

“Amnesty International has first-hand knowledge that the Chinese authorities have detained Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims – outside any legal process – in ‘political education’ camps for their perceived disloyalty to the government and Chinese Communist Party,” the statement said.

“The authorities label the camps as centers for “transformation-through-education” but most people refer to them simply as “re-education camps,” Amnesty said.

In those camps, Uyghurs had been subjected to forced political indoctrination, renunciation of their faith, mistreatment, and, in some cases, torture, the rights watchdog group said.

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an apparent reference to policies under Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, cited “massive human rights violations in Xinjiang where over a million people are being held in a humanitarian crisis that is on the scale of what took place in the 1930s.”


RFA: Uyghur Chauffeur Dies Following Interrogation in Xinjiang Internment Camp

A Uyghur chauffeur has died while detained in an internment camp in Aksu (in Chinese, Akesu) city, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to local officials and a Uyghur exile group.

In July last year, Qaharjan Qawul, 41, was detained in one of the XUAR’s internment camps, where experts say up to 1.5 million people accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017, according to a recent report by the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation (IUHRDF).

The report said that Qawul was arrested after authorities learned that more than a decade ago he had visited his mother and sister in Turkey—one of several countries Uyghurs are blacklisted from traveling to by Chinese authorities due to a perceived risk of religious extremism.

IUHRDF cited an unnamed source it said was “familiar with the case” as saying that Qawul passed out, ostensibly while being tortured, during an interrogation session in November 2018 and died after being taken to a nearby hospital.

RFA’s Uyghur Service contacted various staff members at the Aksu city Justice Bureau who refused to answer questions about Qawul’s death.

However, a Uyghur officer at the Jin Shui Road Police Station, which oversees Qawul’s neighborhood, confirmed that the chauffeur had died “in hospital,” although he did not know which one, and that his body had been returned to his family for burial.

“He was linked to people involved in political activities,” said the officer, when asked why he had been detained.

The officer’s supervisor refused to say whether Qawul had died as the result of an interrogation.

An officer at the Bazaarliq Police Station in Aksu told RFA that Qawul “was arrested by the State Security Police,” but could not provide the names of any of the officer involved.

A staff member from the Kang Wei Household Committee said the chauffeur was “taken away after it was learned that he called ‘key’ [blacklisted] families.”

“Among the three families he called, two of them were blacklisted,” he said, adding that “their family members were also arrested because there was a problem with information on their phones.”