A group of 115 Czech and Slovak scholars and public figures have appealed to China’s government to shut down political re-education camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and commit to the protection of human rights in the country.
In a statement marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on Monday, the 115 representatives of academia, public life, nongovernmental organizations, and think tanks expressed concerns over the repression of ethnic Uyghurs, Tibetans and other ethnic and religious minorities, as well as civil society the media and other social groups in China.
The group said it was “particularly alarmed by the repression of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and condemn the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of people in political reeducation camps.”
Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout the XUAR, and some 1.1 million people are believed to have been held in the network—equating to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region.
On Monday, the group called on China to “immediately release all persons detained in the political reeducation camps, to end the repressive policy in Xinjiang, Tibet and other minority regions, and to uphold political, religious and cultural rights.”
They also noted that Beijing is “using ever more assertive methods” to advance its claims in disputed border areas, including supporting non-democratic regimes and working to weaken the political systems and societies of democratic countries, adding that these tactics “compromise liberal values in international relations and pose a security threat to the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.”
They urged Czech and Slovak state authorities to join an international call for the observance of universal human rights in China, to end cooperation with state and non-state actors within and outside of China which are involved in the repression of Uyghurs and other Chinese people, to fast-track political asylum applications from Chinese nationals, and to strengthen support for human rights and democracy.