On Human Rights Day, UHRP calls for United Nations Action on Uyghur Crisis

For immediate release

December 9, 2019 3:45 pm EST

Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) +1 (202) 478 1920

As the world recognizes the anniversary of the proclamation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UHRP calls on the United Nations to act on the Uyghur crisis. The Chinese government’s campaign of cultural genocide has swept millions into detention, separated families, attacked the cornerstones of Uyghur faith and identity, and led to the establishment of a high-tech police state. The  international response has been shockingly inadequate.

The UN must step up. Since August 2018, when the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated it was “deeply concerned” about credible reports of mass detentions, UN Special Rapporteurs have issued multiple statements, to no avail. Member states have barely managed to call for access to the region, through a letter, a joint statement, and a renewed UK statement in November, after the recent leak of classified documents confirming the government’s massive program sending Uyghurs to camps for internment and indoctrination.


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Join UHRP and VOC for a Capitol Hill policy briefing, “Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region,” 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM. Register here. Livestream here.

 Watch the U.S. Congressional hearing on “Authoritarianism with Chinese Characteristics,” 1:30 PM. Livestream here.

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Even worse, the Chinese government has successfully rounded up statements of support by authoritarian states, and even used threats of retaliation to try to keep a lid on criticism. China explicitly rejects the universal concept of human rights; by using its influence it seeks to promote its vision of “human rights with Chinese characteristics” to the international community.

“The world is learning quickly about the Chinese Communist Party’s vision of human rights,” said UHRP director Omer Kanat. “In East Turkestan, Hong Kong, Tibet, Southern Mongolia, Taiwan, and China’s heartland, the Chinese government meets opposition with repression and destabilization.”

The Uyghurs enjoy none of the basic protections spelled out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). That includes Article 5, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” Article 9, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile,” and Article 12 “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence.” The same is true of Article 18, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,” and the list goes on.

If the UDHR is to mean anything, the United Nations must act immediately on the human rights crisis in East Turkestan.  The UN Secretary General should condemn China’s human rights abuses, UN human rights mechanisms must reject Chinese government pressure, and member states must impose sanctions on the perpetrators. Inaction is a green light.