China: National Day is no cause for celebration without fundamental human rights

Ethnic Uighurs sit near a statue of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong in Kashgar, Xinjiang Thomas Peter/Reuters

For Immediate Release
September 29, 2017 3:45 pm EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

On the 68th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the 62nd anniversary of the establishment of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on October 1, 2017, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on China to respect the fundamental human rights of the Uyghur people and all people in the PRC.

“National Day is a reminder to all marginalized and vulnerable people in China of a government that disregards international human rights standards. Religious and ethnic minorities, dissidents, rights lawyers, and outspoken academics have little to celebrate, particularly since Xi Jinping’s heavy-handed crackdown on any questioning of Communist Party policy,” said UHRP Director, Omer Kanat in a statement from Washington, DC.

Mr. Kanat added: “Uyghurs have witnessed a tightening of regulations on freedoms of speech, assembly, association, and movement under draconian counter-terror legislation. The Chinese government has similarly curtailed free expression of religious belief that equates Uyghur identity with disloyalty to the Chinese state. Under such conditions, it is no surprise that Uyghurs see National Day as a celebration dedicated to their oppressors. For this very reason, it is important to remember individuals who stood up to China’s repression and who China wants the international community to forget.”

As a reminder to the Chinese authorities of the need to respect fundamental human rights, UHRP highlights the following cases of Uyghur prisoners of conscience.

Ilham Tohti ,Gheyret Niyaz and Gulmire Imin were jailed for exercising their freedom of speech. Professor Tohti was particularly outspoken on several economic, social, and cultural issues facing the Uyghurs through his Uighurbiz website. The cases of Gheyret Niyaz and Gulmire Imin illustrates the constraints placed on freedom of the press.

Uighurbiz volunteers Atikem Rozi and Mutellip Imin were sentenced in December 2014. In addition to the denial of their fundamental right to freedom of speech, the cases of Atikem Rozi and Mutellip Imin highlight the difficulties facing young Uyghurs. Rozi faced systemic discrimination when attempting to secure a passport and Imin wrote an account of his enforced disappearance at the hands of Chinese security officials.

The case of Uyghur author, Nurmuhammet Yasin shows the tight constraints placed on artistic freedom and the jailing of Merdan Seyitakhun is demonstrative of the curbs placed on religious rights in East Turkestan. Huseyin Celil’s imprisonment questions the legitimacy of China’s anti-terror campaign aimed at Uyghurs.

In 2016 Tursun Memet Marshal, one of the administrators of the popular Uyghur language website Misranim, and Omerjan Hesen Bozqir, a well known writer, were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.  Other recent arrests of Uyghur artists and intellectuals include the famous poet Yalqun Rozi, the writer Tuniyaz,  and musician Abdurehim Heyt.