Too little too late: ASEAN’s role in the plight of the Uyghurs

Uyghurs sitting outside a Mosque in Shache, Xinjiang province. Photo Credit: Flickr

By Oliver Ward
JANUARY 10, 2019


“I have lost contact for more than twenty months with my family members. The last telephone communication I had with my mother was a very short telephone conversation, in the middle of April 2017,” the voice blared through the speakers. The voice belonged to Dolkun Isa, a political activist from Xinjiang, China and the President of the World Uyghur Congress.

Mr Isa, on a phone conversation from Munich, continued, “then, in 2018, in June, I got the news, the very heart-breaking news, that my mother [had] passed away. Actually, she had passed away on the 17thof May.” Dolkun Isa recounted how he had heard the news second hand, not through officials or family members.

Mr Isa’s mother died in an internment camp. She was an ethnic Uyghur, living in China’s Xinjiang province, or East Turkestan.

In 2001, following the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, the Chinese government asserted the indigenous Muslim population of East Turkestan, known as the Uyghurs had close ties to the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.