April 25, 2016

UNPO Announces Berlin Conference on Uyghur Refugees

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in cooperation with the World Uyghur Congress and the Society for Threatened Peoples, will be convening a conference entitled ‘The Rights of Uyghur Refugees: Past and Present Challenges’. The event will take place over two days in Berlin, Germany, on 25-26 April 2016

In recent years, an increasing number of Uyghurs have been forced to flee East Turkestan as a result of the ongoing repression of the community by the Chinese state. Following an outbreak of violence in 2009, the state mounted a violent crackdown, arresting thousands, with many others forcibly disappeared. Since then, the brutal repression has continued with severe restrictions on the practice of Uyghur religion and culture, justified as “security measures”. In 2014 alone, 27,000 Uyghur were arrested for allegedly endangering state security.

As these refugees are crossing the border into neighbouring countries, including Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Kyrgyzstan, they are met with mistreatment and forced deportations, for example in 2015 the forced return of 109 Uyghurs held at a Thai immigration detention facility. Such actions by the surrounding states constitute serious violations of international law, in particular the 1951 Refugee Convention. As a consequence of these failures to respect international law, Uyghurs find themselves with few options, endangered both within the Chinese state and when they attempt to seek asylum abroad.

This conference will provide a forum in which members of the Uyghur diaspora, academic experts, government officials and international human rights defenders will be brought together to discuss and analyze the crisis and its roots. What’s more, it will seek to provide strategies to help remedy, and ultimately resolve, the crisis on both a short and long-term basis.

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