Dec 06, 2018

Tibet & East Turkestan: German Human Rights Commissioner to Visit Tibet & Denied Permission to Visit Xinjiang

Germany’s top official for human rights, Bärbel Kofler, has been denied permission to visit Xinjiang, where an estimated 1 million Uyghurs has been incarcerated in so called “re-education camps” by the Chinese authorities. The German human rights commissioner said she was shocked by the treatment of the Uyghurs and that she would continue to push for permission to visit Xinjiang soon. Additionally, she raised her concerns regarding the conditions in Tibet, which she will visit Thursday 6 and Friday 7 December 2018.

The article below was published by the New York Times:

Germany's top official for human rights was due to visit Tibet Wednesday [5 December 2018] for a dialogue with Chinese counterparts after being denied permission to visit the heavily policed northwestern region of Xinjiang.

German Human Rights Commissioner Barbel Kofler said in a statement that she had wanted to travel to Xinjiang, where an estimated 1 million members of the Turkic Muslim Uighur minority have been held in political re-education camps in what China calls a campaign against terrorism and religious extremism.

"I am shocked by reports of the treatment of the Turkic Uighur minority," Kofler's statement said. She said she would "continue to push for permission to visit Xinjiang soon."

Former inmates and monitoring groups say those interned in the camps are subjected to prison-like conditions and forced to renounce their religion and cultural background while swearing loyalty to Communist Party leader and President Xi Jinping.

In addition, more than 1 million local government workers have been deployed to move in with Uighur families to monitor their religious practices and political commitments, with those considered disloyal sent to the internment camps.

Uighurs have long reported economic, political and cultural discrimination at the hands of the country's majority Han Chinese, but the last two years have seen a monumental ramping up of repression that has sparked the beginnings of an international backlash.

China's campaign against Muslims and other religious minorities has been spreading nationwide. Most recently, authorities in the largely Muslim province of Gansu have ordered the shutdown of a school teaching Arabic that had operated for more than three decades, according to state newspaper Global Times.

The crackdown in Xinjiang was preceded by a massive security campaign against anti-government sentiment in Tibet, which had been largely independent before communist forces invaded in 1950.

Kofler's statement said that conditions in Tibet give her "great cause for concern" due to restrictions on traditional Buddhist culture and "excessive controls." She travels to the Himalayan region late Wednesday [5 December 2018] and will take part in the dialogue on Thursday [6 December 2018] and Friday [7 December 2018].


Photo Courtesy of Deutsche Welle @Flickr