Nov 27, 2006

East Turkestan: Speech by President of World Uyghur Congress

Erkin Alptekin underlines positive developments for the Uyghur community, notwithstanding the current systematic sinozation and human rights abuses in Xinjiang.


World Uyghur Congress

II General Assembly

Munich, 24 November 2006


Opening Plenary Session

Welcoming Remarks

By Erkin Alptekin

President of World Uyghur Congress


Honorable Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, General Riza Bekin,
Dear countrymen, delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) it is my honour to hereby welcome you to the Opening Plenary Session of the Second General Assembly.

The WUC is an international organization that represents the collective interest of the Uyghur people both in East Turkestan and abroad. It was established on 16 April 2004, here in Munich, after the East Turkestan National Congress and the World Uyghur Youth Congress merged into one united organization. The main objective of the WUC is to promote the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, non-violent, and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan.

The need for the WUC is starkly reflected in the current desperate circumstances and frustrated situation for our people.

East Turkestan, also known as “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” in present-day China, continues to be a region where Uyghurs are waging a life and death struggle for survival. Their fundamental freedoms and human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are being violated by the Chinese authorities on a massive scale. At the same time, the influx of Chinese settlers, coercive birth control among Uyghur women and systematic sinozation of the Uyghur language, pose the greatest threats to the survival of the Uyghurs.

Uyghurs, seeking only to live their lives in dignity, continue to be arrested, tortured and executed on political grounds. According to Amnesty International, since 11 September 2001, the Chinese authorities have arrested more than 3,000 Uyghurs. Reuters, however, quoting Xinjiang Daily, reports on 21 January 2006 that in the year of 2005 alone, 18,000 Uyghurs were arrested after being accused of being ‘separatists’, ‘religious extremists’ or ‘terrorists’. Arrested Uyghurs are frequently subject to torture and that some have been left physically and mentally scarred as a result. U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr. Manfred Nowak, states that “torture in China is still wide-spread” and groups including Uyghurs and Tibetans “have been particularly targets of torture”. Amnesty International also reported that since 11 September, more than 200 Uyghurs have been executed on political grounds; and 50 persons sentenced to death for so-called ‘separatist and terrorist activities’.

Since the 1990’s, as a result of the current policies of the Chinese authorities, almost five thousand Uyghurs have been forced to leave their motherland and seek political asylum abroad.

I am, however, pleased to communicate to this Assembly also burgeoning positive elements. Since its establishment, the WUC, with its 25 affiliated organizations around the world, has, despite very difficult circumstances, played a major role in the integration of the Uyghurs world-wide.

Uyghurs who have settled in countries such as the United States, Canada, European Union states, Turkey, Australia and Japan have, in a short while, succeeded to become fully integrated residents in their new societies. In the last 15 years a young, well-educated Uyghur elite group has emerged. Among them are also academics, engineers, lawyers, doctors, computer specialists and technicians in various branches. We are proud of the fact that the first Muslim to be employed by NASA Space Center in California is an Uyghur. Likewise, 90 percent of the 550 Uyghurs who have settled in Germany have successfully completed their German language courses and acquired new professions. The great majority of these are employed by various factories, hotels, and gastronomies. 24 Uyghurs have opened their own private businesses and have employed 29 of their countrymen. 11 Uyghurs are working as civil servants. 133 school-aged Uyghur children are attending elementary, middle and higher educational institutions. Meanwhile three Uyghur youth have successfully completed their university studies.

There is a nice saying: “…Abilities, without opportunity is of no account…” It gives meaning to the proven fact that if the Uyghurs, who are the children of a long-standing civilization, are given the opportunity, they can be very useful citizens. The Uyghurs who have been denied this opportunity in their own motherland by the Chinese authorities are now being reborn in the countries where they have settled.

With this opportunity, and on behalf of the WUC, I would like extend my deep appreciation to all those countries, including the Federal Republic of Germany, for granting Uyghurs political asylum in their country and providing them the opportunity be useful citizens of society.

Thank you.


Delivered 24 November 2006