Political Persecution of Uyghurs in the Era of the “War on Terror”

For immediate release
October 16, 2007, 9:30 PM EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 349 1496

As the leaders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) meet this week in Beijing for the 17th Chinese Communist Party Congress, the Uyghur American Association urges them to take some time to address the dire situation created by their policies in East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or XUAR). In the five years since the last Party Congress, the PRC has continued to commit human rights abuses in the region. An area of particular concern is the government’s use of the concept of “terrorism” as a justification for its repressive treatment of Uyghurs in East Turkestan and as a tool to intimidate Uyghurs who have fled the PRC.

A new Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) report, Political Persecution of Uyghurs in the Era of the “War on Terror,” examines this domestic and international campaign against the Uyghur people. This report documents that the PRC government has:

• Placed tremendous emphasis on the threat of “terrorism” in East Turkestan, without providing credible evidence of a threat.
• Initiated a series of “security” campaigns in East Turkestan that have resulted in serious human rights abuses.
• Used its influence within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to seek the return of Uyghurs from China’s neighboring countries in violation of international law.
• Attempted to influence overseas Uyghur activists by harassing their family members who remain in East Turkestan.

UHRP’s report reviews the PRC’s change in public rhetoric about East Turkestan after 9/11 and details the crackdowns that have led to arbitrary detentions, arrests, torture, and executions, as the PRC government has used “anti-terrorism” policies to suppress all forms of Uyghur protest, no matter how peaceful. A section of the report illuminates how authorities have targeted Uyghur intellectuals as part of their strategy to silence dissent. The cases of Uyghur-Canadian Huseyin Celil and the attacks on prominent Uyghur leader and human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer’s family illustrate how the PRC’s intimidation tactics extend beyond its own borders.

“Despite the challenges that we face as a people, Uyghurs have never given up longing for freedom and democracy in East Turkestan,” said Ms. Kadeer. “The PRC government must stop misusing the ‘war on terror’ to persecute Uyghurs. It should know that true peace and stability can only come from equality and freedom. Protecting human rights, encouraging the spread of democracy, and building a better world are the responsibility of all nations.”

The report can be downloaded here

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