Dec 09, 2010

East Turkestan: Demonstrations on International Human Rights Day

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day and the Nobel Peace Prize award to Liu Xiaobo, the Uyghur diaspora plans demonstrations in Germany to raise awareness about cultural discrimination and human rights abuse in East Turkestan.

Below is a press release published by the World Uyghur Congress:

On the International Human Rights Day – 10 December 2010 - the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and the East Turkestan Union in Europe will stage a demonstration from 14.30h to 16.30h at the Odeonsplatz in Munich, Germany. With this demonstration, both organisations aim to draw attention to the Chinese government’s systematic human rights violations against the Uyghur people in East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China).

For many years, the Chinese government has waged an intense and often brutal campaign against all forms of political, cultural and social activities of the Uyghur people in East Turkestan. Despite the peacefulness and nonviolence of these activities, the Uyghur population is not only systematically oppressed, but also forcibly assimilated both on a cultural and on an identity level. Thus, the Uyghur language is more and more replaced by Mandarin in education and in the labour market, and important Uyghur cultural treasures like the “Old City” of Kashgar, one of the most famous cities on the Silk Road, are selectively demolished and destroyed under the pretext of modernization. Routinely, the Chinese authorities equate Uyghur culture and its exercise with the so-called "three evils" (terrorism, separatism and religious extremism) to advance their persecution of the Uyghur people. The authorities have economically marginalized the Uyghur population in East Turkestan through intensive and blatant racial discrimination in employment.  The life of Uyghurs today in East Turkestan resembles an open-air prison, where discrimination penetrates into all possible areas of everyday life and where a normal life is virtually impossible.

Therefore, it is very important to draw attention to the situation of Uyghur people in East Turkestan not only in the context of International Human Rights Day. The WUC and its member organisations have been working for many years for the improvement of the human rights situation of the Uyghur people and to prevent the Uyghurs from being forgotten by the international community.

International Human Rights Day coincides this year with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. When Liu Xiaobo was named this year’s recipient of the peace prize, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, President of the WUC said that "this year's Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiaobo´s non-violent activism is a wonderful step toward the promotion of all democratic movements in China."

Ms. Kadeer, who herself has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, added that “this award not only recognises his specific work on democracy and human rights in China, but also empowers all China-related human right movements and dissidents, including the Uyghur and Tibetan human rights movements and activists.  It also gives hope to other prisoners of conscience in China who suffer long prison terms due to their standing up for freedom of speech and human rights”.