October 20, 2010
Nine years after the passing of the Durban Declaration, the Nonviolent Radical Party and the World Uyghur Congress delivered an intervention highlighting instances of continuing linguistic discrimination against several of UNPO's members.
Below is a press release published by the Nonviolent Radical Party:
On Monday, October 18, 2010, the Nonviolent Radical Party Transnational and Transparty, an NGO in consultative status to the United Nations, orally delivered an intervention concerning linguistic discrimination as a form of structural discrimination during the Eighth Session of the UN Human Rights Council’s Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.
Nine years have passed since the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action was adopted by the international community following the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa in 2001.
The Nonviolent Radical Party (NRP) expressed concern under Item 8 – “Thematic Discussion of Structural Discrimination” – of the Intergovernmental Working Group’s agenda that nine years after the Durban Conference, a significant number of States continue to deny minorities and indigenous peoples the right to maintain and use their own languages. NRP expressed particular concern about State-imposed linguistic discrimination against the Uyghurs in East Turkestan [(also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (XUAR)], the Baluchis in Iran, the Montagnards in Vietnam, and the Kurds in Syria.
NRP noted that the Chinese government has breached provisions in Chinese law to protect ethnic minority languages and has undermined the autonomous status of the indigenous Uyghurs’ region through its program of shifting the medium of instruction throughout the entire education system in East Turkestan (also known as the XUAR) – from preschool to high school – from Uyghur to Mandarin Chinese. NRP pointed out that although the Chinese authorities claim that the language policy is making the region’s school system “bilingual”, the trend has been toward eliminating instruction in the Uyghur language completely or relegating Uyghur language to language arts classes and making Mandarin the instruction medium in all other classes.
NRP further expressed grave concern over: the Iranian government’s failure to grant the Baluchi minority in Baluchi areas of Iran access to education in their own language; the Vietnamese authorities’ failure to honor promises to allow indigenous Montagnards to speak, study, and pray in their own language; and the Syrian government’s prohibition and criminalization of the publishing and printing of materials in Kurdish and the teaching of the Kurdish language.
NRP urged the Intergovernmental Working Group to take further steps to end linguistic discrimination, a form of structural discrimination that unfortunately still thrives. NRP said, “Language is the most fundamental element of an ethnic group’s identity and to deny a group the right to maintain and use its language is to deny that group the ability to maintain its identity.”
The Eighth Session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Effective Implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action has been in session since October 11, 2010 and will adjourn on October 22, 2010 at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
Click here to view the full statement online