Sep 19, 2007

East Turkestan: US Congress Back Uyghurs

In a welcome move, the House of Representatives has passed a resolution urging China to release the children of Uyghur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer, and to drastically improve its human rights record.

In a welcome move, the House of Representatives has passed a resolution urging China to release the children of Uyghur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer, and to drastically improve its human rights record.

Below is a press release issued by the Uyghur Human Rights Project:

By a voice vote, the House of Representatives on Monday [17 September 2007] passed House Resolution 497, calling on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to immediately release the children of Rebiya Kadeer and Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil and refrain from further engaging in acts of cultural, linguistic, and religious suppression directed against the Uyghur people in East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or XUAR).  

Speaking in support of the bill, Congressman Chris Smith said, “At turning points in history… one honest and courageous man or woman often comes to represent the entire people in the eyes of the world… For the Uyghur people, deprived of their religious freedom, robbed of their cultural and linguistic rights and marginalized in their own homeland by the government-organized Han Chinese migration, it is Rebiya Kadeer.”

Congressman Eni F.H. Faleomavaega added, “the People's Republic of China continues to brutally suppress even the slightest attempts of peaceful political, religious and cultural expression of the Uyghurs… After the attacks in the U.S. on September 11, the People's Republic of China has used the pretext of the war on terrorism to justify these severe human rights violations in Xinjiang and routinely labels the Uyghurs as terrorists and as splitists.”

The Uyghur Human Rights Project thanks the members of the House of Representatives for their support of the Uyghur people and joins them in urging the PRC to behave as a responsible stakeholder in the international community and to protect the human rights of the people inside its borders. By releasing Rebiya Kadeer’s children and Huseyin Celil, the PRC can demonstrate that it is moving in a positive direction with regards to providing basic rights to the Uyghur people.

Ablikim Abdureyim, one of Ms. Kadeer’s sons, was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of “secessionism” in April [2007], after a trial in which it is believed he was not provided with legal representation. In November of last year [2006], Alim Abdureyim, Ms. Kadeer’s youngest son, was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 62,500 USD on charges of tax evasion. Both sons have reportedly been subjected to torture and other physical abuse. Kahar Abdureyim, Ms. Kadeer’s eldest son, was fined 12,500 USD for tax evasion at the same time as Alim’s sentencing and fine.  The punishments are widely seen as retaliation for Ms. Kadeer’s human rights activism on behalf of the Uyghur people.

Uyghur-Canadian Huseyin Celil was sentenced to life on charges of engaging in "terrorist activities" and "plotting to split the country." Mr. Celil was detained by Uzbek authorities in March 2006 when he tried to renew his visa in Uzbekistan, where he was visiting the parents of his wife. PRC authorities subsequently secured his repatriation from Uzbekistan in June 2006. Human rights groups believe that Mr. Celil’s sentence is in response to the peaceful political activities he engaged in before he left East Turkestan. Mr. Celil became a Canadian citizen in 2005.

House Resolution 497 was introduced by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on June 19, 2007 and co-sponsored by another 32 Representatives.  The full text of the bill can be found here (pdf).

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) works to promote the preservation and flourishing of a rich, humanistic and diverse Uyghur culture, and to support the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, democratic means to determine their own political future. 

The UAA has undertaken the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) for the purpose of promoting improved human rights conditions for Uyghurs and other indigenous groups in East Turkistan, on the premise that the assurance of basic human rights will facilitate the realization of the community’s democratic aspirations.

Uyghur Human Rights Project
Uyghur American Association

Source: The Uyghur Human Rights Project