June 16, 2017
Photo Courtesy of S Pakhrin @Flickr
On 15 June 2017 the International Uyghur Language Day took place. It was an opportunity for the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) – a human rights research, reporting and advocacy organization – to highlight Beijing’s repressive laws targeting the Uyghur community. UHRP condemned the actions of the Chinese government aimed at infringing the Uyghurs’ linguistic rights. The organisation called on China to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
The article was published by the Times of Central Asia:
On the occasion of International Uyghur Language Day, June 15, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has called on all concerned individuals, human rights groups and governments to speak out against Chinese government policies aimed at undermining the linguistic rights of the Uyghur people in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. UHRP has also encouraged the international community to protect linguistic diversity as a critical aspect of building resilient ethnic minorities in an age of cultural assimilation.
“International Uyghur Language Day is an opportunity to celebrate the vibrancy and richness of the Uyghur language. Uyghur scientists, philosophers and poets have made remarkable contributions to humanity in their own language. Uyghurs are rightfully proud of these achievements and wish to secure a future for their children as speakers of Uyghur,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat in a statement.
Mr. Kanat added: “As an international community, we have a responsibility to promote diversity across the globe. China has implemented a series of policies that undermine the Uyghur language with the goal of establishing Chinese as the Uyghurs’ first language. Despite guarantees in international and domestic law, the Chinese authorities have unilaterally prioritized communication in government, commerce and education among Uyghurs toward Mandarin Chinese.”
Mr. Kanat went on saying that in 2007 UHRP detailed how the Chinese government was implementing an education policy that effectively marginalized the Uyghur language from the education system. “Despite the fact that right to develop and use minority languages is protected by Article Four of the Chinese constitution, in reality centrally formulated policies undermine and marginalize the Uyghur language. The ‘bilingual education’ policy was designed to transition Uyghur students at all levels from education in their mother tongue to education in Chinese.”
UHRP has called on China, among others, to:
Realize Article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Ratify the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and implement the provisions protected in Article 27:
In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is a human rights research, reporting and advocacy organization. Its mission is to promote human rights and democracy for the Uyghur people, raise awareness of abuses of Uyghurs' human rights, and support the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, democratic means to determine their own political future.
In Xinjiang, Beijing is pursuing a policy of suppressing what it calls separatism and religious extremism among the Uyghur population.