UHRP welcomes US State Department decision to revoke flawed terrorism designation

November 6, 2020 1:00 PM EST

For Immediate Release

Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomes the recent decision by the US State Department to revoke the designation of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization, and urges a similar delisting by the United Nations.

“The harmful effects of China’s exploitation of the imagined ‘ETIM’ threat are real—20 years of state terror directed at Uyghurs,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “This long-overdue decision  is a definitive rejection of China’s claims.”

The State Department designated the group as a terrorist organization in January 2002 and added the group to the Terrorist Exclusion list in April 2004, based on evidence provided by the Chinese government. The group continues to appear on the UN Consolidated List of terrorists and terrorist organizations. No evidence, however, has been presented corroborating the Chinese government’s claims.

Amnesty International, in a 2004 report, stated that its researchers were “unable to obtain credible, independent information which corroborates allegations that ETIM has been responsible for acts of violence.” George Washington University professor Sean Roberts has found that “few if any Uyghurs or scholars studying Uyghur political movements had heard of the organization prior to 2001.”

Since 2001, the Chinese government has cited ETIM’s ostensible threat to justify escalating repression for nearly two decades. Today, Uyghurs are suffering a genocide. On September 14, 2020, 38 genocide prevention experts called for a UN Commission of Inquiry on crimes against humanity and genocide against Uyghurs.

In 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on counter terrorism and human Rights, in a letter to the Chinese government, stated that “we are gravely concerned that the Counter-Terrorism Law’s measures to address [security challenges] are neither necessary nor proportionate.”

The United Nations has a corresponding obligation to remove ETIM from its Consolidated List through a formal delisting process.

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