RFA: Activists Say UN Chief’s Words in China on Uyghurs Fall Short

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres effort to broach the detention of a million or more Uyghurs in political re-education camps with Chinese leaders at the weekend disappointed Uyghur groups and human rights experts and elicited Beijing’s stock defense of the mass incarceration.

Guterres, on his fourth visit to China as UN chief, attended a summit on Saturday of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and held talks with President Xi Jinping. He had been urged by diplomats from Western countries and Turkey to raise the situation in Xinjiang during his meetings.

The diplomats wanted the secretary general to use his position to appeal to Beijing on behalf of 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas who are being held in political “re-education camps” across the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) since April 2017.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the UN in New York on Monday that Guterres had “discussed all relevant issues with Chinese authorities.”

“He did just that, and that includes the situation in Xinjiang,” he said.

“Human rights must be fully respected in the fight against terrorism and in the prevention of violent extremism,” Dujarric told reporters.

“Each community must feel that its identity is respected and that it fully belongs to the nation as a whole,” Dujarric added.

The Associated Press quoted a U.N. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, as saying that Guterres did not raise the Uyghur issue with Xi, but did discuss the matter during a meeting with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“His telling the Chinese government that human rights must be respected was no more than window dressing,” said Nury Turkel, chairman of the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project exile group.

“He must speak out on the Uyghur tragedies. His tiptoeing around the crisis is both unacceptable and untenable on the face of China’s criminalization of the entire ethnic group with genocidal intent,” he told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“The scope and scale of the Uyghur crisis cry out for condemnation and actions by international bodies such as the UN and Organization of the Islamic Conference,” added Turkel.

‘Weak expression of concern’

Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, echoed those concerns, telling RFA that “Guterres’ weak expression of concern over the mass incarceration of Uyghurs is regrettable.”

“He didn’t specifically express his concern over the arbitrary and unlawful detention of over two million Uyghurs in Chinese concentration camps or call for the immediate closure of these camps,” he said.

Worse, according to Isa, Guterres “linked the incarceration of millions of Uyghurs to China’s territorial integrity and counter-terrorism efforts instead of focusing on the crimes against humanity that is happening in East Turkestan.”

“Such expression of concern by the UN General Secretary will only justify and embolden the Chinese government to carry on its current policies of cultural genocide and mass detentions,” said Isa.


RFA: US Religious Freedoms Panel Calls For Vietnam Listing as ‘Country of Particular Concern’

A U.S. bipartisan commission called on Monday for Vietnam to be placed on a State Department blacklist of the world’s worst abusers of religious freedoms, noting that the country’s removal from the list 13 years ago has not eased violations under one-party communist rule.

Although the State Department removed Vietnam from its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) in 2006 amid improving diplomatic relations, “the government of Vietnam has continued to persecute religious individuals and organizations,” the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said in an annual report.

Religious freedom conditions last year “trended negative,” USCIRF said, adding that 244 prisoners of conscience held in Vietnam’s jails at year-end included “some who advocated for freedom of religion or belief, and others who simply professed or practiced their faith.”

“Local authorities continued to seize property from Catholic churches, Buddhist temples, and other religious groups for economic development projects without providing just compensation,” USCIRF said, while police harassed religious leaders of different faiths for attending religious conferences overseas or for meeting with foreign diplomats.

“Based on these systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, USCIRF again finds that Vietnam merits designation in 2019 as a ‘country of particular concern,’ or CPC, under the Religious Freedom ACT (IRFA), as it has recommended every year since 2002,” the rights monitoring group said.

Meanwhile, Myanmar and China, already listed as “Tier 1” Countries of Particular Concern at the commission’s recommendation, should be maintained in their positions on that list, USCIRF said in its report.

Religious minorities targeted

In Myanmar, called Burma in the USCIRF report, military and nonstate actors targeted religious and ethnic minorities including Rohingya Muslims and Christians for discrimination and violence, driving over 700,000 Rohingya across the border with Bangladesh in a “massive military crackdown” over the last three years.

Heavy weapons attacks in Myanmar’s Kachin state in recent years have destroyed Christian churches, while assaults by mobs including Buddhist monks in Rakhine have injured Christian pastors and parishioners, with community members in one case left too frightened to attend services.

The spread of hate speech on social media has meanwhile incited violence in the ethnically divided country, leaving victims of abuses with little hope for justice, USCIRF said in its report.

Noting that the State Department has designated Myanmar as a CPC since 1999, and most recently again in November 2018, USCIRF called in its report for the country to maintain its ranking, with existing arms embargoes punishing Myanmar’s military kept in place.

Uyghurs held in camps

In China, the introduction in February 2018 of new Regulations on Religious Affairs banned all “unauthorized” religious teaching, with laws already in place also banning religious organizations deemed “subject to any foreign domination,” a provision used especially to crack down on Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uyghur Muslims.


RFA: Uyghur Inmates in Iconic Xinjiang Detention Camp Photo Identified

Five Uyghur inmates in a widely published photograph of scores of men sitting in a political re-education camp in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been identified by friends and acquaintances, who confirmed their names and occupations to RFA’s Uyghur Service.

The photo was posted to the WeChat account of the Xinjiang Judicial Administration and shows Uyghur detainees listening to a ‘de-radicalization’ speech at a camp in Hotan (Hetian, in Chinese) prefecture’s Lop county April 2017.

The camp is located in the Beijing Industrial Zone in front of the cement factory and Number 1 Middle School in Lop County. One of the detainees was planning to build a bakery in the industrial zone where is now incarcerated.

On April 19, the Facebook page of the U.S.-based World Uyghur Congress Vice President Perhat Muhammet revealed their names and professions, based on information provided by a man from Lop county and who is now living in exile. RFA conducted telephone interviews with the Lop county man and others who knew the inmates.

The five men in the photo are among up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas and held in political “re-education camps” across the XUAR since April 2017.

The five men are medical equipment entrepreneur Mamtimin, restaurant and bakery proprietor Aziz Haji Shangtang, religious teacher and jade merchant Eli Ahun Qarim, woodworker Abdulla Haret, and driver Abduleziz Haji.

Mamtimin studied business management at the Shanghai University of Medicine and Health Sciences and graduated in 2012. He attended a Chinese high school in China and was good at computers and web design.

A former classmate of Mamatimin named Nurmement, who now lives in Turkey, said he last saw his classmate in Hotan in 2012. At the time, Mamtimin was establishing his own company to sell medical equipment.

“Mamtimin was two years ahead of me in the university,” he said.

Nurmement told RFA he is not sure why Mamtimin was sent to the camp, but described him as “an independent thinker and actor.”


RFA: Tibetan Advocacy Groups Slam Tibetan Association of Canada as Beijing-Backed

A new Tibetan-Canadian organization promoting Beijing’s rule in Tibet, and which Chinese state media said had received a letter of support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is a front for the Chinese government, according to Tibetan activists and advocacy groups.

The Tibetan Association of Canada (TAC) held a lavish launch party in Toronto on April 20, attended by local politicians, during which the head of the organization praised how China had improved the lives of Tibetans through “democratic reform” in the 60 years since the People’s Liberation Army put down a Tibetan rebellion against Chinese rule in Tibet.

Signs hung at the launch party were written in English and Chinese, not Tibetan, while attendees were led in singing the Chinese national anthem.

A representative of Canadian Liberal Party lawmaker Shaun Chen was at the TAC event, according to reports by official Chinese media, while ruling Conservative Party member of the Ontario legislature Vincent Ke and Toronto city councillor and former Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis were also present.

Chinese media reporting on the event also noted that the TAC had received letters of congratulations from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen, referring to documents that appeared to be printed on official letterhead and were circulated on social media.

On Tuesday, however, the offices of both officials said the letters—which contain multiple spelling and grammatical errors—had been faked and pledged to investigate their source.

SMHRIC: Two more WeChat group administrators detained

Ms. Bai Xiurong, a herder and WeChat discussion group administrator, was detained by Urad Middle Banner Public Security Burean (SMHRIC – 20190422)

As Ms. Bu Xiaolin, chairman of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, visited the northern border of Urad Middle Banner on April 22, 2019, more than a hundred local herders gathered in front of the local government to demand a meeting with her. A dozen were arrested, and two protestors who maintained multiple WeChat discussion groups were placed under a 14-day administrative detention.

According to communications received by the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), the local authorities have not taken any effective measures to protect the natural environment and have failed to provide adequate compensation to affected communities.

Among the protestors were Ms. Bai Xiurong and Mr. Altanbagan, two Mongolian herders who maintained and hosted a number of discussion groups via their only available social media tool, WeChat. Both were thrown into the SWAT team vehicles, along with about ten other protestors.

“Bai Xiurong’s sister was summoned to the Public Security Bureau personnel yesterday. She was forced to surrender Bai Xiurong’s phone,” local herder Tsetseg told the SMHRIC in an audio message. “The Public Security Bureau accessed her phone and wiped out all the WeChat discussion groups she maintained.”

Local herders said that since Bai Xiurong’s arrest, her disabled elderly parents, who need constant care, have been left unattended, and her livestock remained inside the fence without fodder or water.


SMHRIC: Activist placed under criminal detention for “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”

Mr. Tsogjil, an activist and host of multiple WeChat group, was placed under criminal detention for an alleged “involvement in crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles” (SMHRIC – 20190419)

Mr. Tsogjil’s detention warrant does not specify the detention period although notes the location where the detainee is held (SMHRIC – 20190415)

Mr. Tsogjil, a Mongolian activist who hosted multiple WeChat discussion groups, was arrested in Hohhot, capital city of Southern Mongolia (known as “Inner Mongolia”), on April 16, 2019. He was preparing to file an official complaint to the Autonomous Government concerning the authorities’ violation of rights of Mongolian herders. That same day, Tsogjil was brought back to his homeplace of Heshigten Banner and placed under criminal detention on a charge of “involvement in crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles.”

“Around 8:00 p.m., Tsogjil was taken away by five plainclothes from a taxi he hired upon his arrival at a hotel in Hohhot where he was to stay,” Ms. Narnaa, a local herder familiar with the case, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) on the phone.

“In order not to put fellow herders at risk of arrest and detention, Tsogjil traveled alone to Hohhot with a great deal of first-hand materials about environmental destruction and rights violations in our communities near the Dalainuur National Nature Reserve areas,” Narnaa added.

The detention warrant issued by the Heshigten Banner Public Security Bureau explains that “In accordance with the People’s Republic of China Criminal Procedure Law Article 82 Clause 1, Tsogjil has been placed under criminal detention starting April 17, 2019, for his involvement in the crime of picking quarrels and provoking troubles.” The warrant does not specify the detention period but notes that the detainee is currently held at the Heshigten Banner Detention Center.

A native of Heshigten Banner, Tsogjil, 40 years old, has been active in advocating the local communities’ rights to use their native language, access their land, water and other resources, and maintain national identity. He has created and hosted at least five WeChat discussion groups with a total membership of nearly 2,500 people, of which majority are Mongolian herders and grassroots activists.


RFA: Uyghur Businessman Dies Following Heart Attack in Xinjiang Political ‘Re-education Camp’

A Uyghur businessman has died after suffering a heart attack while detained in a political “re-education camp” in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, according to sources.

Yaqup Rozi, believed to be in his mid-40s, died “during the last week of March” this year, a source with knowledge of the situation recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Rozi, who regularly conducted business in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, traveled to his home in Suntagh township’s Shoroq village, outside of Atush (in Chinese, Atushi) city in the XUAR’s Kizilsu Kirghiz (Kezileisu Keerkezi) Autonomous Prefecture, in early 2017 at the behest of local authorities, the source said, adding that his passport had been confiscated on his return.

A month later, Rozi was summoned to the local police station for interrogation, but then released, and a month after that, police raided his home in the middle of the night, taking him away with a black hood over his head, according to the source.

His family later learned that he was detained in the XUAR’s network of political “re-education camps,” where up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017.

The source said that authorities did not provide a reason for Rozi’s detention, although it is believed that he was targeted for traveling abroad to a country blacklisted by authorities for travel by Uyghurs due to the perceived threat of religious extremism.

After Rozi died last month, authorities refused to release his remains to his family members, who were only allowed to observe as a state-appointed religious cleric washed his body and prepared it for burial according to Islamic tradition, the source added.

Officers at the neighboring Kattay village and Atush city police departments both told RFA they had no information to provide when asked about Rozi’s death, before hanging up.

But an officer at the Suntagh township police department confirmed that Rozi had died at a local hospital as the result of “myocardial arrest,” or a heart attack.

“According to what I know, his body was brought from the hospital … because they couldn’t save him,” the officer said, adding that Rozi had originally been brought for medical treatment from detention.

RFA: ‘The Past is Repeating Itself’

Sami Steigmann, 79, is a Holocaust survivor who was held at the Mogilev-Podolsky labor camp in the Ukraine between the ages of two and five with his parents, from 1941-1944. While he was too young to work at the camp, he was subjected to Nazi medical experiments and still suffers from side effects today. After the camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army he and his family relocated to Transylvania, where they spent nearly 20 years before immigrating to Israel in 1961. Steigmann eventually moved to New York in 1988, and now campaigns against genocide and cultural eradication.

On April 6, 2019, he joined hundreds gathered in Washington in urging the Trump administration to sanction those responsible for human rights violations in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). He recently spoke with RFA’s Uyghur Service about why the international community must come together to end the kind of persecution now underway in the XUAR, 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 in a network of political “re-education camps” since April 2017.

RFA: Would you please tell us when you hear about the Uyghur situation, what does it remind you of?

Steigmann: One of the things that is happening in the world is that there is a lot of hatred. People have forgotten how to disagree in a civil way. In this day and age, we have not learned enough about what happened during the Holocaust—the darkest period in human history. There is no room for an individual or a group of people to suffer the discrimination, persecution, intimidation, and being forced to give up their heritage and their culture.

RFA: Why do you support the Uyghurs?

Steigmann: I support them because, as a Holocaust survivor, we suffered. Nobody can [bear] that by themselves. The problem that happened with the Holocaust is that the world stood by and nobody helped us. So I am a strong believer that we have to help each other, and the whole world is of one race—the human race. We are all people. The only difference is that we have different cultures and different opinions, but we have to learn to respect each other.


Petition: Sanction China’s President Xi over His Distributed Mass Killing of up to a Million Uyghurs

Sanction China’s President Xi over His Distributed Mass Killing of up to a Million Uyghurs

April 17, 2019

On April 3, 2019, 24 senators and 19 House members among US lawmakers signed a letter calling for sanctions against China’s top official in East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang region) [1]. The reasons for the sanctions mentioned in that letter included the alleged abuses — including mass detentions — against the Uyghurs. UN investigators have been saying for about a year now that some one million people had been rounded up in East Turkestan in a massive network of cramped detention camps, with China pressing Uyghurs to renounce Islam through actions such as forcing them to eat pork, which is forbidden for Muslims. However, the crimes that have been committed against the Uyghurs and the damages made to the Uyghur race far exceed the above description. The mastermind who planned and is controlling every step of this whole crime against humanity is China’s president Xi Jinping, and Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary in East Turkestan, is just the executer and scapegoat for Xi. The information that we have collected from various sources, including direct communication with some Uyghur witnesses, tells us the following truth on the current situation of the Uyghurs in East Turkestan:

1. About 500,000 physically and intellectually strong Uyghurs, including most Uyghur elites, who were originally detained in concentration camps in East Turkestan have been transferred or are currently being transferred to prisons in other Han provinces. The destinations reported by Bitter Winter include Shanxi, Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia [2]. The intension of the Chinese government is to kill them all. Some of them have already been killed, and this process is continuing today.

2. The remaining physically and intellectually strong Uyghurs originally put in concentration camps were later given 10 years or longer jail terms on a mass scale (such as 500 people per day in one location) and transferred to prisons in East Turkestan.

3. About one million Uyghur detainees have been transferred to Gansu province [3].

4. Some of the detention camps have been converted to prisons, and some to so-called “re-education centers”. This process is currently still ongoing.

5. The Uyghurs who are still in concentration camps now are the low-income ones and peasants.

6. In preparation for the visit of an EU fact-finding team, the local government is currently removing the barbed wires on the walls of some concentration camps and also some check point stations on the streets.

7. About 500,000 pre-school and elementary-school aged Uyghur kids are currently in so-called “orphanage centers” and so-called “boarding schools”. The reality is, however, these are all children’s concentration camps. These children are not allowed to visit their parents (if they are still alive) in their homes. In some cases, they are allowed to talk to their parents only once a month over the phone. All of them are now receiving systematic brainwashing. The aim of such brainwashing is to convert their identity to that of Han Chinese.

8. The Chinese government has selected some special groups of 4 – 5-year-old children from orphanage centers (whose both parents were taken to concentration camps or prisons) and is training them as future international spy agents.

9. Modern science has found that human nature can be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, dignity, integrity and love. This can be achieved by artificial biological selection, drug use, as well as completely unlimited use of torture and brainwashing [4]. The Uyghurs currently being kept in prisons, adult concentration camps, and children’s concentration camps are being subject to all of the above tactics so that they will become a special type of human beings who will have lost all of their basic human nature, especially the human character which makes it possible for one to say “No” to authorities.

10. The Chinese government violates almost all international laws, treaties and agreements. They are currently using the Uyghurs detained in prisons and concentration camps as materials for types of biological experiments, as well as sources of the living organ harvesting business.

11. The Uyghurs who are not in prisons or concentration camps are now living in open-air prison-like conditions and Uyghurs outside China are also living mentally abnormal lives due to the tragedy happening in their homeland.

12. The Chinese government has almost achieved their originally set goal: Kill and handicap 1/3 of Uyghurs, detain the other 1/3 and convert the remaining 1/3 into “special human beings” who will have lost their normal human nature or to “converted Han people”. This process is also currently ongoing.

13. Some Uyghur observers abroad are estimating that up to one million Uyghurs might have been killed since 2016, and up to another 4.5 million Uyghurs are currently being detained in prisons, concentration camps and children’s concentration camps. The statement of “Up to One Million Uyghurs Have Been Detained” has already become a past story. These figures seriously need to be updated.

While a group of US lawmakers is calling for sanctions against Chen Quanguo, China’s top official in East Turkestan, Xi’s government in China is taking steps to promote him to a much higher-ranking position [5,6]. Although Xi’s government has committed and is still committing crimes against humanity rarely seen in human history by killing up to one million Uyghurs during the last 2 plus years, some international bodies are still welcoming Xi and other Chinese top officials with red carpet [7], instead of declaring sanctions against them and holding them responsible for their crimes. This must stop.

In the early morning of June 4, 1989, the day on which the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre took place, the Chinese Red Cross estimated that 2,700 people had been killed. But for weeks following the massacre the Chinese government reported through all of their state media outlets that only 3 people died and two of them were military personnel. The Uyghurs in East Turkestan lost about 10,000 lives during the July 5th Urumchi massacre in 2009 with the well-planned operation of China’s armed police, but the government reported afterwards that a total of 194 people died and 147 of them were Han Chinese. Western governments and the western media still quote these numbers to this day, almost 10 years after the massacre took place in Urumchi: “A total of 194 people died and 147 of them Han Chinese.” The communist Chinese government spends billions of dollars to hide the truth, to lie to the world, and to deceive the entire international community in everything, small to large, including what has happened and what is happening to the Uyghur people in East Turkestan. Given these facts and conditions, it is wrong for various international communities, western countries and all open societies in the world to use the same reporting standards to China as they do among themselves. Everything China is doing to the Uyghurs in Eastern Turkestan is top state secret, punishable with death sentence if leaked. We hope the international community be mindful of this and stop this wrong practice from now on.

We believe human beings should be the Master of Technology, not its slaves; scientific development should not threaten the existence of a human race; and economic development should not be achieved at the cost of cultural genocide. But today, in the hands of the communist Chinese government, East Turkestan and the Uyghurs have become the field and object for testing/piloting the most innovative advanced surveillance methods and other technologies to control human beings. Similarly, the Uyghur culture has become the victim of China’s economic development. The fate we are facing today is not the issue of only one human race getting vanished. It is the issue of technology enslaving humanity, and it is the issue of technological means turning this world into a prison. It is also the issue that humans are losing their purposes and standards and being sacrificed for technological advancement. Uyghurs in East Turkestan have already started to experience this kind of trend. We hope the world sees this as much as we do.

Your voice is precious to us. By signing this petition, you are saving countless innocent lives. Please sign this petition and help the Uyghur people in their struggle against the evil Chinese government.

Thank you!

RFA: Successful Uyghur Developer Confirmed Detained by Xinjiang Authorities

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have arrested a successful Uyghur property developer, according to a relative.

Ilyas Memet, a 48-year-old father of five, was arrested at his office in Ili Kazakh (in Chinese, Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture’s Ghulja (Yining) city in March 2018, the relative recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He was arrested quite some time ago,” he said, adding that it was unclear why authorities had targeted him or whether he had been tried.

March 2018 marked Memet’s second arrest, following one in May 2017 that had seen him detained for “100 days in the Gucheng Detention Center,” the relative said, referring to Changji Hui (Changji Hui) Autonomous Prefecture’s Guchung (Gucheng) county.

The relative confirmed an earlier report by an acquaintance of Memet’s last year, who told RFA at the time that “Ilyas Hajim, the owner of Subhi Property Development, Ltd., is in prison,” using an honorific to signify that Memet had made the holy Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

The acquaintance said that he had been in Ghulja on business in 2017 when authorities first arrested Memet.