Feb 18, 2010

East Turkestan: Petition Calling for Support

Sample ImagePetition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asking for basic humanitarian rights

Below is an article published by gopetition.com:

Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that you issue a public statement concerning the grave human rights violations that the Chinese government committed during -- and have committed in the aftermath of -- the peaceful Uyghur protest and the ethnic unrest that occurred in Urumchi [the regional capital of East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China)] in July 2009. The authorities brutally suppressed a peaceful Uyghur protest in Urumchi on July 5, 2009. Numerous witness accounts reported in the media and provided to Uyghur organizations abroad indicated that security forces committed extrajudicial killing of protestors. The other severe human rights violations that the authorities have committed since July 2009 have included but have not been limited to the following:

• The authorities have detained thousands of people in connection with the July 2009 events and arrested many of these people during mass detentions, including mass roundups of young Uyghur men. The authorities have subjected an untold number of Uyghurs to enforced disappearances. Human Rights Watch documented the enforced disappearances of 43 young Uyghur men and boys who were detained in large-scale sweeps and in targeted raids, but noted that the number of disappeared is likely significantly higher than 43. In fact, Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said, “The cases we documented are likely just the tip of the iceberg.”

• The authorities have ensured that defendants prosecuted in connection with the July 2009 events have been denied due process and the right to legal representation of their choice. The authorities’ actions in this regard have included: giving prosecutors and judges special instructions on how to handle the July 5th cases; hand-picking the judicial personnel assigned to the trials according to political criteria; warning human rights lawyers against taking protest-related cases; and making public statements that have put political pressure on courts to mete out death sentences and other severe sentences.

• The Xinjiang courts have arbitrarily sentenced 24 Uyghurs to death and 9 Uyghurs to death with a two-year reprieve, for murder or other crimes allegedly committed during the July 2009 events. In addition, many Uyghurs have been arbitrarily sentenced to life imprisonment and varying jail terms. All of the Uyghurs sentenced thus far were sentenced after non-transparent trials plagued with the aforementioned politicization and lack of due process. The appellate courts have upheld all of the sentences on which they have rendered decisions thus far and have done so after non-transparent reviews. Nine of the Uyghurs sentenced to death were arbitrarily executed less than four weeks after they were sentenced.

• The authorities have conflated peaceful protest on July 5th with rioting, which is consistent with the government’s routine criminalization of Uyghurs’ peaceful exercise of freedom of expression. Official statements and state media reports have suggested that some acts of peaceful protest would be formally subjected to criminal prosecution. An XUAR official acknowledged that the authorities were holding in custody people who had protested peacefully on July 5th.

• The authorities have implemented an information blackout in the region since July 2009, which among other things, has denied East Turkestan residents internet and e-mail access and international phone calling and text messaging capabilities. We respectfully request that you issue a public statement calling on China to:

• Ensure that those accused of crimes related to the events of July 2009 are afforded due process, tried in an open and fair court, and given access to legal representation of their choice;

• Impose a moratorium on executions and on the imposition of death sentences;

• Immediately and unconditionally release all those who are only alleged to have protested peacefully on July 5th;

• End arbitrary detentions and provide a full account of all of the detentions that have been carried out since July 5th, inform family members of detainees’ whereabouts, and release detainees who have been held without evidence;

• Allow foreign media independent, unrestricted access to conduct reporting throughout East Turkestan and to report on trials of defendants accused of crimes related to the July 2009 events;

• Allow an independent investigation into the July 2009 incidents and invite the UN Secretary-General, the High Commissioner of Human Rights, and various Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts to visit East Turkestan;

• Restore complete internet/e-mail access and international phone calling/text messaging capabilities in East Turkestan;

• Address the root causes of the July 5th protest and the ethnic unrest, including the severe political and religious repression and economic discrimination to which Uyghurs are subjected and the dilution of Uyghurs’ language and culture. Thank you for your time and attention to these urgent matters.