12 years after July 5 unrest in Ürümchi, UHRP again calls for safe haven for Uyghur refugees

July 5, 2021

July 2, 2021 10:45 a.m. EDT
For immediate release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) recognizes the 12-year anniversary of the unrest in Ürümchi on July 5, 2009 and in the days following, and calls for the protection of Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers currently residing abroad.

“Saving Uyghur refugees is the least that the world can do for Uyghurs, as we experience the 5th year of an ongoing genocide,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “It is urgent that the U.S. Congress pass the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act, and like-minded countries need to stand up serious refugee resettlement programs.”

The July 5 incident began with a peaceful protest against the murder of Uyghur workers in a factory in Guangdong. Eyewitnesses state that security forces fired on the demonstrators, and violence erupted in the city leading to an unknown number of deaths. In the subsequent days, security forces swept the city  conducting mass arbitrary disappearances.

The roots of the current Uyghur statelessness crisis lie in the official response to peaceful July 5 protests in Ürümchi—a brutal multi-year crackdown that forced many Uyghurs to flee their homeland, followed by systematic atrocities now recognized as an ongoing genocide.

In tandem with these crimes, the Chinese government has intensified a deliberate campaign targeting Uyghurs abroad, with 1,327 individuals detained or rendered from 20 countries since 2014 alone, as documented in the UHRP-Oxus Society June 24 report, No Space Left to Run: China’s Transnational Repression of Uyghurs.

The Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act would make Uyghurs and other persecuted Turkic peoples eligible for priority refugee processing by the United States, designating them as “Priority 2” (P-2) refugees of special humanitarian concern. 

In 2020, the Uyghur Human Rights Project and the World Uyghur Congress co-hosted an event examining the post-2009 crackdown as the precursor to genocide: From Systematic Assimilation to Cultural Genocide: July 5, 2009 as a turning point in China’s repression of Uyghurs.  

Read more:

On World Refugee Day 2021, UHRP Calls for Protections for Uyghur Refugees Globally, June 20, 2021

Report: Weaponized Passports: the Crisis of Uyghur Statelessness, April 1, 2020

Chinese government’s live fire killings and enforced disappearances of Uyghurs in 2009 should have been a wake-up call for action, July 2, 2019 

Nine years since the July 5 unrest in Urumchi and no end in sight for arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances of Uyghurs, July 3, 2018

China: On International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances come clean about the Uyghur missing, August 29, 2017

China: Where are the Uyghurs disappeared after the July 5, 2009 unrest?, July 13, 2017

Seven years after July 5 unrest in Urumchi, China must commit to transparency and address root causes of Uyghur grievances, July 16, 2016

Report: ‘To Strike the Strongest Blow’: Questions Remain Over Crackdown On 2009 Unrest In Urumchi, July 2, 2013

Report: ‘They Can’t Send Me Back’: Uyghur Asylum Seekers in Europe, September 20, 2011

Report: A city ruled by fear and silence: Urumchi, two years on, July 5, 2011

Harsh July 5 sentences highlight official attempts to silence Uyghurs and suppress information about criminal procedures, January 10, 2011

Report: ‘Can Anyone Hear Us?’ Voices From the 2009 Unrest in Urumchi, July 10, 2010