The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has submitted a report for consideration by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in preparation for the Committee’s examination of the 3rd periodic report of China.
The submission draws on our own research, firsthand testimonies, and additional reporting on the Uyghur crisis relating to the field of economic, social, and cultural rights. The report makes recommendations to be raised with China during the 68th Pre-Sessional Working Group in March 2021 in relation to articles 2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15 of the Covenant.
In particular, the UHRP raises the following issues with the Committee:
- Forced labor: In the garment industry, Uyghur forced labor is present in all stages of the production process, including in the planting, harvesting and processing of cotton, the spinning of yarn, the weaving of textiles and the manufacture of finished garments. In addition to internment camps, the Chinese government has exported an estimated 80,000 Uyghur laborers to other parts of China in 2017-2019 alone, toin factories under conditions which strongly indicate forced labor.
- Cultural rights: The Chinese government has undertaken efforts to destroy Uyghur cultural landmarks, including mosques, shrines, and cemeteries, supported by evidence from satellite imagery.
- Forced sterilizations: Since at least 2016, the government of China has made efforts to purposely reduce the birthrate of Uyghur women through coercive family planning—including the forced sterilization of women. Birth rates among Uyghur women plummeted from 2015-2018, with population growth in the Uyghur Region falling by over 84 percent in that period in the two largest Uyghur prefectures.
- Right to education: In 2017, the Hotan Prefecture Education Department banned the use of the Uyghur language “at all education levels up to, and including secondary school, in favor of Mandarin.” The government of China’s implementation of ‘bilingual education’ programs in the Uyghur Region beginning in the mid-1980s has intentionally weakened teaching and the use of the Uyghur language.
- Non-discrimination: The Chinese government has failed to provide disaggregated data showing disparities between ethnic groups, despite repeated recommendations from the Committee. Uyghurs suffer substantially higher unemployment rates than Chinese due to exclusion by state and private employers, as well as through discriminatory hiring practices.
- Adequate standard of living: Uyghurs are often disproportionately excluded from development because they reside predominantly in the south and in rural areas, whereas Chinese are more heavily concentrated in northern, urban areas, which sees the benefits of regional development.
The report provides detailed information on each of these issues, and demonstrates that the Chinese government has taken far from adequate steps to address these issues in response to the Committee’s Concluding Observations from the 2nd periodic review in 2014.