Category Archives: Human rights

Nury Turkel and the Uyghur plight

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are joined by Nury Turkel, a prominent voice in the overseas Uyghur community and the chairman of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, now based in Washington, D.C. We discussed Nury’s own experiences as a Uyghur and an activist both in China and the United States; the increasingly vocal Uyghur diaspora around the world in the wake of widespread detentions in Xinjiang; the relative absence of state-level pushback outside of China; and the international organizations that advocate for Uyghur rights in China and the accompanying pushback from Beijing.


RFA: Uyghurs, Legal Experts Dismiss Chinese Legal Move to Justify Re-education Camps

A move this week by China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) to amend a 2017 counterterrorism law to provide a legal justification for detaining as many as a million Uyghurs in political re-education camps was dismissed on Thursday as misleading and a violation of China’s constitution.

On Tuesday, the XUAR government unveiled new clauses added to an anti-extremism law put into effect in March 2017 to cover what China calls vocational training centers for Uyghurs—but which former guards and inmates describe as detention camps now estimated to hold 10 percent of all Uyghurs.

“Governments above the county level can set up education and transformation organizations and supervising departments such as vocational training centers, to educate and transform people who have been influenced by extremism,” Reuters news agency quoted one of the new clauses as saying.

The move followed mounting international criticism of China for a campaign that began in April 2017 under which Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout the XUAR. Beijing, which initially denied the existence of such camps, now says they are part of the fight against extremism and also work to provide Uyghurs vocational training.

Uyghur exile groups, human rights experts and lawyers say the new measures do nothing to legitimize the camp system and in fact are illegal under Chinese law.

“What the Chinese (government) is doing is illegal on every front: under international law, under their own constitution, under criminal procedures, autonomy law,” said Nury Turkel, a Washington-based lawyer and Uyghur activist.

“This no more than window dressing, no more than misleading the international community, which has been rallying and criticizing the Chinese government,” he told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

The camp system has drawn criticism from the United Nations, human rights groups and the United States, where lawmakers have proposed legislation that would sanction XUAR officials for human rights abuses.

“The media scrutiny is ongoing so the Chinese have to do something to show to the world they have a so-called legal framework and their actions fall within that legal framework,” added Turkel.

“With the new amendment the Chinese government is attempting to legitimize its crimes against humanity,” he said, adding that the original 2017 counterterrorism law is “in and of itself draconian and most brutal.”

‘A mockery of law’

Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress called the amendments “an attempt on the part of the Chinese government to legitimize and justify the extrajudicial detention of one million Uyghurs who have been incarcerated since the spring of 2017.”


RFA: 11 Uyghurs Fly to Turkey after Malaysia Drops Immigration Charges

The Malaysian government sent 11 Uyghur refugees from China’s Xinjiang province to Turkey after dropping immigration charges against them in defiance of a request by Beijing that they be returned there, their attorney said Thursday.

The move came after a Kuala Lumpur Court granted a request by prosecutors to apply a discharge not amounting to acquittal. Fahmi Abdul Moin, a lawyer representing the Uyghurs, said his team sent a letter in July to the Attorney General’s Chamber asking that the charges be dropped.

Officials with the Attorney General’s Chamber, as well as the home minister and his deputy could not be reached for comment late on Thursday.

In a letter seen by BenarNews, Fahmi raised the issue of the alleged systematic oppression of the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang and discrimination against them by the Chinese government, which have forced many to flee the country.

“As such, my clients are part of the victims of the ongoing turmoil in the Xinjiang province and were forced to escape,” Fahmi told BenarNews, , an RFA-affiliated online news service.


Petition: Establish An Anonymous Method to Report Chinese Government Intimidation and Influence Operations on US Soil

Establish An Anonymous Method to Report Chinese Government Intimidation and Influence Operations on US Soil

As noted in recent media accounts, the government of the People’s Republic of China has engaged in the intimidation of US citizens and conducted influence operations on US soil with almost complete impunity.We request the FBI to immediately establish an anonymous tip line and/or website to counter brazen Chinese government threats and influence operations on US soil. Furthermore, we request the FBI publish clear guidelines for actionable tips.

WP: U. S. lawmakers urge FBI to probe claims of Chinese intimidation against immigrants

U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday called for a stronger response to the Chinese government’s repression of Muslims in China’s far west and asked the FBI to investigate claims of intimidation against some immigrant communities in the United States.

The remarks, coinciding with annual rights report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, were the latest signal of more assertive U.S. statements on Chinese rights issues as the Trump administration presses its trade battles with Beijing.

In a letter addressed to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Rubio and Smith called on the agency to look into allegations that the Chinese Communist Party is harassing and intimidating diaspora communities, including Uighurs with family in Xinjiang, on U.S. soil.

“Members of the Uyghur diaspora community in the United States have indicated they are unwilling to appear at public events, including congressional hearings, out of fear they will be surveilled and their family members in China punished as a result. This is unacceptable,” the letter reads, using one variation of the spelling of Uighur.

The letter also asks the FBI to set up an anonymous tip line to “counter brazen Chinese government threats and influence operations on U.S. soil.”


UHRP condemns “Legalization” of internment camps and expresses concerns about the transportation of Uyghur detainees

On October 9, 2018 the regional government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, also known as East Turkestan, issued a revised version of the regional de-extremification regulations (unofficial translation available at China Law Translate).

Article 33 of the revised regulations calls for “[o]occupational skills education and training centers and other education and transformation bodies” to carry out language, legal and occupational training, as well as “anti-extremist ideological education, and psychological and behavioral correction to promote thought transformation of trainees.”

While the media is referring to this as the “legalization” of the massive system of internment camps that holds approximately 10 per cent of the Uyghur population, the law does not make reference to the nature of the camps as involuntary detention centers. Chinese legal system experts are noting that the new regulations do not in fact allow for the indefinite detention that is taking place in the camps. The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) agrees that because it does not appear to establish legal provisions which supersede the national level counter-terrorism law’s maximum of 15 days detention without charge, those imprisoned in the camps are being held under arbitrary and extrajudicial detention.


UHRP: The Fifth Poison: the Harassment of Uyghurs Overseas

Executive Summary

This report seeks to document the various methods the Chinese government employs to monitor and harass Uyghurs overseas. Uyghurs are subjected to coercion from the Chinese government even after leaving China. The targets of this coercion are not limited to the politically active, but also the Uyghur diaspora more broadly, creating a climate of fear even in liberal democracies in the West.


RFA: Three Uyghur Intellectuals Jailed for Separatism, Political Study Film Reveals

Two senior Uyghur education officials in Xinjiang and a well-known writer who had disappeared from public view in early 2017 without explanation have turned out to be serving life sentences on separatism charges, RFA’s Uyghur Service has learned.

The three men—former director of the Xinjiang Education Supervision Bureau Satar Sawut, writer and critic Yalqun Rozi, and former Xinjiang University President Tashpolat Teyip—vanished last year amid rumors they had run afoul of China’s increasingly hard-line policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

In Sawut’s case, a message posted on a Chinese website in February 2017 said he was undergoing investigation for a serious breach of the party discipline. The post did not say what Sawut was accused of doing. Rozi’s arrest had been the subject of rumors for the past two years, but no witnesses or documents were ever produced to determine his fate.

RFA’s Uyghur Service received a letter last month from an anonymous former official in Xinjiang. The author of the letter said he was undergoing mandatory political education, and he and fellow cadres were shown a political study film made by the police.


RFA: China Increasing Domestic Repression and Exporting Authoritarianism–US Report

China’s human rights situation is on a “continued downward trajectory, by virtually every measure” under President Xi Jinping and Beijing is using its growing power to spread authoritarian practices outside its borders, a U.S. congressional advisory panel said on Wednesday.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) annual report catalogs perennial human rights concerns, including political prisoners, jailing of journalists, repression of religion, and internet censorship.

The 2018 edition places special focus on the incarceration of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang, growing Communist Party control over society and business, and the use of technology as a tool of repression.

“China’s authoritarianism at home directly threatens our freedoms as well as our most deeply held values and national interests,” said a statement by Senator Marco Rubio, CECC chairman, and Representative Chris Smith, cochairman of the CECC, opening the 244-page report.

“Additionally, the ‘long arm’ of the Chinese Communist Party extends beyond China’s borders and is increasingly pervasive and multifaceted,” the lawmakers wrote, warning that under Xi’s assertive rule Chinese practices are being exported around the world.

“We see an ascendant and increasingly aggressive China, seeking to take center stage in the world, and in so doing, determined to shape new global norms on development, trade, the internet, and even human rights. All the while, the fundamental authoritarian character of China’s political system remains the same,” they wrote.


Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2018 Annual Report – Southern Mongolia
Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2018 Annual Report – East Turkestan (Xinjiang)
Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2018 Annual Report – Tibet

Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2018 Annual Report – Tibet

Link to full Annual Report here.

Status of Negotiations Between the Chinese Government and the Dalai Lama or His Representatives

There has been no formal dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Chinese Communist Party and government officials since the ninth round of dialogue was held in January 2010.1 In its 2017 Report on Tibet Negotiations, the U.S. State Department reiterated the policy of the U.S. Government ‘‘to encourage meaningful and direct dialogue between Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, to lead to a settlement that resolves differences.’’ 2 In keeping with the Chinese government’s longstanding policy, 3 executive deputy head of the Party’s United Front Work Department Zhang Yijiong stated on October 21, 2017, that the Chinese government opposes meetings between foreign officials and the Dalai Lama, calling him ‘‘a leader of a separatist group that is engaging in separatist activities.’’4 At a November 23, 2017, meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata, the Dalai Lama reaffirmed the Middle Way Approach of seeking autonomy for Tibet within the People’s Republic of China, 5 stating that the Tibetan people ‘‘are not seeking independence’’ and that they ‘‘want to stay with China.’’6 On April 3, 2018, Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) President Lobsang Sangay stated that ‘‘back channel talks’’ continue between the Chinese government and the CTA.7

16 total pages