Dec 08, 2019

UNPO Welcomes EP Efforts to Tackle Uyghur Issue

The UNPO welcomes the focus on the European Parliament on the dangers posed to Uyghurs and other Chinese minorities living in Europe and the instruction to the European Commission and EU Member States to investigate cases of Chinese harassment within the EU. The UNPO has been consistently reporting about the harassment of Uyghurs abroad by the Chinese authorities in order to force them to act as informants against other Uyghurs, return to Xinjiang or remain silent about the situation there, sometimes even by detaining their family members. 

The UNPO urges the Commission and all Member States to investigate these reports as a matter of urgency, to take specific measures to ensure that members of the Xinjiang diaspora are protected in their respective countries, and to expedite asylum requests from Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. In this regard, UNPO welcomes the decision taken by some Member States to suspend the return of all ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs or other Turkic Muslims to China in view of the risk of arbitrary detention, torture or other ill-treatment, and calls on all other Member States to follow suit.

Finally, UNPO hopes that the message conveyed by today's resolution adopted by the European Parliament and the 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Professor Ilham Tohti resonates beyond the EU and reaches the entire international community, who should exert collective pressure on China to end its persecution of Uyghurs and other minorities immediately.

Below is an article published by the European Parliament

MEPs express serious concern about China’s repression of the Uyghurs and call on the Chinese government to close the “re-education camps” in Xinjiang immediately.

MEPs strongly condemn that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and ethnic Kazakhs are being sent to political “re-education camps” based on a system of predictive policing, in a resolution adopted on Thursday. They urge the Chinese government to immediately end the practice of arbitrary detentions without any charge, trial or conviction for criminal offence and to immediately and unconditionally release all detained persons, including this year’s laureate of the Sakharov Prize, Ilham Tohti.

Mass internment and intrusive digital surveillance

There is solid information that Uyghurs and other primarily Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang province are subject to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and extensive digitised surveillance, MEPs argue. They call on the Chinese authorities to give independent journalists and international observers free access to Xinjiang province to examine the situation on the ground.

MEPs also express their deep concern regarding reports about Uyghurs abroad being harassed by the Chinese authorities in order to compel them to inform against other Uyghurs, return to Xinjiang or remain silent about the situation there, sometimes by detaining their family members.

Appropriate and effective measures against the Chinese authorities

MEPs finally stress that tools used so far by the EU have not led to tangible progress in China’s human rights record, which has only deteriorated during the last decade. They recall it is vital that the EU raises the issue of human rights violation in China at every political and human rights dialogue with the Chinese authorities. MEPs call on the Council to adopt targeted sanctions and freeze assets, if deemed appropriate and effective, against the Chinese officials responsible for severe repression of basic rights in Xinjiang.

The resolution was adopted by show of hands.


Pressure has been increasing on Beijing, after a recent leak of classified documents (China cables). They appear to confirm that the Chinese government has detained more than a million Muslims, mostly Uyghurs, in “re-education camps” in the north-western region of Xinjiang. The Chinese authorities said the “vocational training centres” were being used to combat violent religious extremism.


Photo: EP