Sep 14, 2006

East Turkestan: European Commission has ‘Strong Concerns’

The Commission has been questioned on its view on China after detention of two children of prominent Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer.
A report recently published by UNPO draws attention to the detention and abuse of the children of prominent Uyghur leader and human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer. Ms. Kadeer, recently nominated for the Nobel Prize, was herself released from Chinese imprisonment as a result of intense international pressure in 2005. Following her exile in the United States, Chinese authorities have however continued to persistently attack her children and staff remaining in East Turkestan. Citing UNPO, Italian MEP Marco Cappato (ALDE) has submitted a written question on 28 June 2006 this matter to the European Commission.

Mr. Cappato MEP draws attention to reports suggesting two of Ms. Kadeer’s adult children, Ablikim Abdiriyim and Alim Abdiriyim, were arrested and severely beaten by police officers outside the regional capital of Urumchi. Their detention occurred the day before a US Congressional visit was due to arrive in East Turkestan. Ablikim Abdiriyim was taken to hospital after losing consciousness, following an event also witnessed by four of Ms. Kadeer’s grandchildren. Another of Ms. Kadeer’s sons, Kahar, is presently imprisoned, and her daughter, Rushangul, is under house arrest. There is particular concern for Ms. Kadeer’s son Ablikim, whose condition and whereabouts are at present unknown. All are reported by the Chinese government as officially under house arrest.

These actions all follow threats, reportedly made to Ms. Kadeer by Chinese officials, citing consequences for her children if she does not cease speaking out on behalf of the Uyghur people.

Citing this information, Mr. Cappato MEP presented the following questions to the Commission:


“Can the Commission say:


if the Commission is aware of the abovementioned facts;


what action has been taken in order to ensure the immediate release of Ablikim, Alim Abdiriyim and Rushangul from Chinese custody;


whether the question of minority rights in East Turkestan (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) will be raised in the framework of the human rights dialogue with the Chinese authorities?”


Ms. Ferrero-Waldner, responding on behalf of the Commission on 04 September 2006, stated;


“The Commission is aware of the detention and allegations of torture of the children of Rebiya Kadeer. It has already raised its strong concerns in this regard on several occasions, most recently in a meeting with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 27 June 2006. In addition, the Commission is increasingly troubled by the practice of Chinese law enforcement officials of targeting the close family of political dissidents and well known human rights defenders. This issue is currently being discussed among the Member States and the Commission delegation in Beijing.”

“Minority rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are regularly raised in the framework of the EU-China human rights dialogue. Indeed, they were a key concern of the 20th Round of the dialogue in October 2005, after which a three-day field trip took place in Xinjiang. This gave the EU an opportunity to discuss minority rights in greater depth with local officials and religious leaders in both Urumqi and Aksu.”

“Minority rights throughout China will remain high on the EU’s agenda in forthcoming dialogues on human rights.” 

Whilst UNPO appreciates that the issue of Mrs. Kadeer’s children has been raised at the European Parliament, the organization emphasises that the situation for the Uyghurs in China remains untenable and calls upon the EU for more affirmative action.