Statement of Solidarity with Hong Kong Protests from Omer Kanat, Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project

The people of Hong Kong are courageously raising their voices to defend their basic freedoms.

Seeing more than a million peaceful protesters is incredibly inspiring.

As Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project and behalf of my fellow Uyghurs, I would like to express a strong message of solidarity with the people of Hong Kong.

We admire the leadership and resilience of Hong Kongers in the face of heavy-handed policing and political pressure emanating from the Chinese Communist Party and its proxies.

The people of Hong Kong have peacefully demonstrated in favor of their sovereignty and for the principle of rule of law. They know it is absolutely necessary to take a stand to push back Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong’s constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

The proposed extradition law is yet another step to chip away at the terms of Hong Kong’s governance. It is a renewed assault on the rule of law, including the international agreement that guarantees Hong Kongers’ rights and liberty.

We Uyghurs have bitter experience of losing our ability to make decisions free of interference from Beijing. The entrance of People’s Liberation Army troops into East Turkestan in 1949 ended our formal independence.

At that time, the Communist Party promised the Uyghur people autonomy with the right to govern ourselves. This was a cruel deception. The Party has denied us any semblance of the democratic principle of self-determination. Under the rule of the Communist Party, Uyghurs have been systematically denied our democratic rights. All political, economic, and cultural decisions in our homeland have been taken without our democratic consent.

Today, our entire homeland is an open-air prison. Today, at least one and a half million, or possibly up to 3 million, of our friends, families, and neighbors are interned in 21st century concentration camps.

The international community must support Hong Kong’s stand for freedom, before it is too late. As some of the demonstrators have said, “Today’s Xinjiang is tomorrow’s Hong Kong.” It was truly a horrifying step when a Hong Kong police delegation travelled to East Turkestan for training, where massive crimes against humanity are occurring on an almost unbelievable scale.

Chinese Communist Party rule has devastated the peoples of Tibet, Southern Mongolia, and East Turkestan. As the protestors note, Hong Kong is next on its list.

Watching Hong Kong’s peaceful protests, Uyghurs are very moved. We share the same values and aspirations as Hong Kongers. We strongly believe in democratic principles and the rule of law. We strongly support the people of Hong Kong in their fight for the rule of law, their fight for democratic decision-making, and their fight for protection against being left at the mercy of the Beijing government’s authoritarian security apparatus.

We join our voices to those of the people of Hong Kong, in support of fundamental democratic rights, including self-rule. We call on all democratic governments to urgently support the people of Hong Kong. Staying silent is a green light for the Communist Party’s horrific crimes against humanity in the Uyghur homeland, and all freedom-loving peoples and governments must act to ensure Hong Kong does not become another “no rights zone.”

Thank you.