UHRP Urges US President Biden to Press Central Asian Presidents to Protect Uyghurs

Central Asia Flags 2023

For immediate release
September 19, 2023, 5:00 p.m. EDT
Contact: Omer Kanat, +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin, +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) calls on President Biden to raise the issue of Uyghur genocide and Uyghur human rights in diplomatic engagements with the five Central Asian leaders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan, following up on their meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly today.

“Central Asia must be a place of refuge for Uyghurs, not continued persecution,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “President Biden can make a real difference for the victims of the ongoing genocide against Uyghurs, just by raising his voice.”

Particularly in the cases of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, transnational repression by the Chinese authorities presents a threat to the sovereignty of nations that must be urgently addressed. As UHRP has reported, the Uyghur diaspora continues to be targeted, and as Central Asian governments pursue closer ties with the Chinese government, vulnerable members of the community who have escaped genocide remain at risk. 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization states, especially China and the Central Asian countries as the six original members, have formal agreements to quell freedom of speech and use domestic security agencies to target anyone defined as a “threat” by any fellow member state. Member states use the SCO’s legal framework as an excuse to ignore international human rights safeguards. As early as 2012, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) concluded that it is a “vehicle for human rights violations.”

Read more:

China casts its ‘SkyNet’ far and wide, pursuing tens of thousands who flee overseas, RFA, May 4, 2022

UHRP Encouraged by US Commitment to Oppose Transnational Repression, Urges Multilateral Action, March 22, 2022

No Space Left to Run: China’s Transnational Repression of Uyghurs, UHRP Report, June 2021 

The Uyghurs, China and Central Asia: The growing bonds between central Asian states and China have a human-rights cost for Uyghurs across the region, by Henryk Szadziewski, July 2011