UNPO, Human Rights House Foundation, Human Rights in China, Non-violent Radical Party, No Peace Without Justice, UNITED, German Parliamentarian Volker Beck, The Rafto Foundation, and Society for Threatened Peoples issue statement of support to Members of the European Parliament and Officials of the European Union.
16 March 2007 – UNPO, Rafto, Human Rights in China, Society for Threatened Peoples, UNITED, Non-violent Radical Party, Human Rights House Foundation, German parliamentarian Volker Beck and No Peace Without Justice have issued a Joint Statement in response to concerns raised by the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union.
Statement in Full
A response to concerns raised by
the Mission of the People’s Republic of China
to the European Union in the News Bulletin No. 17, 06/03/2007
The Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union recently issued a News Bulletin warning of the damage that EU-China relations might suffer if Members of the European Parliament continue to meet with representatives of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and its leader Ms. Rebiya Kadeer. The Bulletin’s main allegation is that WUC pursues a platform of secessionism through acts of terrorism and by “fanning the flames of religious fanaticism”.
This is by now a familiar charge, and a line of argument that has been relentlessly pursued since the dawn of the “war on terror” whenever Chinese authorities are confronted with the human rights violations and restrictions that characterise the East Turkestan of today.
Chinese authorities have resolved to “strike hard” against voices of opposition in East Turkestan. Religious freedoms are extensively curtailed, with Imams subject to strict censure and repairs to many of their mosques forbidden; the arrests that follow simple posters of dissent testify to the restrictions imposed on freedoms of speech; and the widespread torture and execution of activists of opposition, even for non-violent activities, breeds an atmosphere of fear and desperation. These human rights violations have been documented in countless reports by groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), and the European Parliament has on several occasions acknowledged Europe’s obligation to hold Chinese authorities accountable.
Experience has shown that the ongoing oppression of East Turkestan has not yielded the desired stability in the region. Rather, the quest for stability ought to be attained in partnership with local groups which know first hand the grief that terror breeds, and which offer a strong platform upon which to build the democratic structures which undermine the support and credibility of acts of violence. This is the political future towards which WUC works.
China’s efforts to link Rebiya Kadeer and the WUC to acts of terrorism have long failed to convince the international community, and stand directly opposed to the organisation’s stated commitment to principles of democracy and non-violence. The United Nations does not list the organisation amongst known supporters of terrorism, and its members have worked tirelessly in pursuit of an end to the circle of violence that plagues their homeland. The local justice system in East Turkestan continues to rely on confessions extracted during torture, and the frequent execution of local activists continues to undermine the credibility of attempts to forge a link between acts of terror and local rights groups.
Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, President of WUC, was herself amongst the victims of China’s efforts to bring “stability” to East Turkestan. Once a decorated and wealthy business woman, Ms. Kadeer’s fortunes reversed when she joined the cause of these local rights groups. An eight-year sentence followed her conviction for “undermining state security”, a charge justified on the grounds that she had sent her exiled husband a clipping from a local newspaper. An intensive international campaign secured her release, after which she continued to advocate the human rights of the people of East Turkestan despite, as the Bulletin notes, a warning from Chinese authorities. Her work has subsequently earned her the recognition of a Rafto Prize and several nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ms. Kadeer’s struggle remains however an intensely personal one, as although she has secured her own release, Chinese authorities have turned to her children who remain in East Turkestan, subjecting them to torture and long prison sentences.
China’s officials cite their deference to United Nations resolutions concerning terrorism. Paramount amongst these resolutions is however the principles that the global campaign against these crimes must not come at the cost of the advances that have been made towards securing the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all individuals. These are concerns conspicuously absent from the Shanghai Convention against “Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism”, but which constitute the very core of the democratic legacy of which Europe is rightly proud. These are also the principles towards which WUC work through the leadership of Ms. Kadeer – work we are proud to support.
We, the undersigned, therefore urge all Members of the European Parliament and Officials of the European Union to guide China’s process of modernisation and democratisation through example; emphasising your freedom to listen and learn from both sides of a dispute; reminding Chinese officials that standards of justice demand charges of terrorism be examined by open and transparent institutions, and that until the opposite is proved, individuals are presumed innocent; and stressing that the real threat to the China-EU strategic partnership comes not from meetings with political opposition, but from China’s failure to abide by the standards of justice and human rights that stand at the very core of the European Union.
Human Rights House Foundation
Human Rights in China
Non-violent Radical Party
No Peace Without Justice
The Rafto Foundation
Society for Threatened Peoples
UNITED for Intercultural Action
UNPO - Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
Volker Beck, First Parliamentary Secretary, ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS parliamentary group (Germany)
Concerns Raised by the PRC
Extracts of News Bulletin (No. 17, 06/03/2007) issued by the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union, titled “About World Uyghur Congress and Rebiya”:
“[...] Who is Rebiya Kadeer, the person that elected as the Chairwoman of WUC in November 2006? She used to be one of the richest woman in Xinjiang. In August 1999, she was detained for undermining state security and was later sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment. In March 2005, the judicial department released her on bail for medical treatment in the U.S.A. on humanitarian grounds. Before her release, she promised the government several times that she’d never participate in any activity which might harm the state security of the People’s Republic of China. Once stepping on the foreign soil, she tore off her mask and ganged up with the Eastern Turkistan terrorists. In the cover of democracy and human rights, she distorted the fact, maliciously attacked the Chinese Government and frequently participated in anti-China separatist activities aiming to secede Xinjiang from China. […] We strongly condemn the words and deeds made by Rebiya Kadeer attempted to undermine the peace and stability of the Chinese society.
We call on Honorable MEPs to learn the real motives of WUC and not to meet with Rebiya and not to give any chance to these secessionist elements which have countless and close ties with terrorists, so as to maintain the healthy development of China-EU strategic partnership.”
The Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union recently issued a News Bulletin (No. 17, 06/03/2007) warning of the damage that EU-China relations might suffer if Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) continue to meet with representatives of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and its leader the prominent human rights activist Ms. Rebiya Kadeer. [Extracts from Bulletin posted at bottom of page]
In response the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), the Rafto Foundation, Human Rights in China, Society for Threatened Peoples, Non-violent Radical Party, Human Rights House Foundation, No Peace Without Justice have today issued a joint statement urging Members of the European Parliament and Officials of the European Union to guide China’s process of modernisation and democratisation through example; calling for China to abide by the standards of justice and human rights and adopt inclusive strategies to form a strong platform upon which to build democratic structures which undermine the support and credibility of acts of violence, rather than quelling the voices of political dissent.
The statement was issued to Members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European of the European Parliament, Members of the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament, and Members of the Delegation for relations with the People's Republic of China of the European Parliament and other MEPs and EU officials.
[Article on the Uyghur Leadership Seminar]
[More information on the Uyghur Leadership Seminar]
[View the press release of the Uyghur Leadership Seminar]
[UNPO Appeal to nominate Rebiya Kadeer for the Nobel Peace Prize]