UHRP BRIEFING—Uyghurs to China: "Return our relatives’ passports"

For immediate release
August 6, 2020 11:34am EDT
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project
+1 (703) 217-7266, +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has released a new briefing highlighting calls by Uyghur Americans for the Chinese government to return their relatives’ passports and permit travel overseas for family reunifications in the United States.

The briefing, Uyghurs to China: “Return our relatives’ passports”, provides firsthand accounts from Uyghurs Americans protesting the Chinese government’s refusal to issue passports to family who remain trapped in China. Their accounts directly contradict recent Chinese government claims that Uyghurs in East Turkistan are able to access these documents and travel freely.

“The idea that Uyghurs still have access to passports and can freely leave China on their own is an obvious fiction,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “The Chinese government’s entire narrative has been repeatedly undone by a mountain of evidence, most importantly from the Uyghur diaspora.”

The call follows a claim by Chinese authorities that Uyghur individuals “should place trust in the government that their Chinese passports will be renewed or reissued according to relevant laws.” The official spoke in direct response to the April 2020 UHRP report, Weaponized Passports: The Crisis of Uyghur Statelessness, detailing a pattern of passport renewal denials overseas and passport confiscations in the Uyghur region.

Given the claim by Chinese officials, Uyghur Americans are now asking state authorities to issue passports to their relatives. Uyghurs across the globe are also posting calls on social media for the return of their family members’ passports.

UHRP joins these voices and urges China to meet domestic and international obligations to provide travel documents and remove restrictions on freedom of movement.