Dec 19, 2012

East Turkestan: UN Declaration On Minorities Needs Universal Implementation

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) calls for action on the 20th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Minorities


Below is a press release by the World Uyghur Congress: 

Twenty years after its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities continues to serve as a benchmark towards which States should aim in order to guarantee the flourishment of their respective minority communities. The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) greatly welcomes the 20th year of this milestone declaration, though it calls on the international community to do more to ensure the universality of its implementation, including in the People's Republic of China.

Many peoples have benefited from its contained principles, which were based on, among others, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as many states have acknowledged the importance to recognise the rights of their minorities as an integral part of the development of society as a whole. Whilst many states have steadfastly embraced this Declaration, many obstacles remain in place for its full and universal implementation.

During the past year, the Uyghurs have seen further restrictions on religious practice in the PRC, more death sentences discriminately handed down without due process, further erosion of the Uyghur language due to repressive educational policies, adoption of new laws that will effectively legalise enforced disappearances, more crackdowns on religious schools, extra-judicial killings, and the completion of a policy to destroy 85% of the culturally important Uyghur city of Kashgar, all of which are contrary to the realisation of the rights contained in the Declaration, to which the PRC took a part in its drafting.

In spite of repeated calls from Uyghurs, the US, other national governments, international organisations, the European Union and the United Nations for the PRC to respect the rights of the Uyghurs in accordance with its international legal obligations, the calls continue to go unanswered. The WUC President Ms Rebiya Kadeer said, "whilst the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration should be a day to rejoice, it is instead yet another reminder for the Uyghur people of the wealth of rights that they do not enjoy."

In light of the poignancy of this day, the WUC calls on the international community to take stock of the ongoing, human rights violations against Uyghurs and to step up its efforts to encourage the PRC to engage meaningfully with the Uyghur people, and for the the PRC to ratify the ICCPR which stands as the bedrock for realising the goals of the Declaration. Without meaningful and willing engagement from the PRC, the Uyghur people will continue to fail in the realisation of the principles contained in the Declaration that so many minorities will be celebrating today.