September 20, 2011

IV International Uyghur Women's Seminar

From 24-26 September 2011, the IV International Uyghur Women’s Seminar, entitled “The Importance of Uyghur Women’s Participation in Promoting Human Rights and Democracy,” will take place in Tallinn, Estonia.

Over the past six decades, The Uyghur People of East Turkestan have been deprived of fundamental human and civil rights by the Chinese Government, which continues to refuse the indigenous group freedom of expression, religion, and education.  With more than 90 percent of all political, administrative and economic bodies in the region occupied by Beijing-appointed officials, the Uyghur population has little opportunity for representation in the current administrative framework and has suffered from discriminatory practices at every level of government.  Frustrated by an intransigent Chinese regime, the community has been forced to protest this treatment despite certain and harsh repercussions including forced migration and unlawful detainment.

In cooperation with the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation (IUHRDF) and Mr. Juku-Kalle Raid, member of the Estonian Parliament and sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) hosted and participated in the IV International Uyghur Women’s Seminar  on 24-26 September 2011.  The seminar provided a necessary forum for Uyghur women worldwide to understand and discuss the challenges faced by indigenous groups in East Turkestan.  Participants came from seven nations worldwide and heard from more than twenty experts and NGO officials.

In addition to nineteen presenters, Dr. Sean Roberts, Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University spoke on reconsidering East Turkestan Islamic Movement’s terrorist label and Dr. Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Freedom House’s Senior Program Manager for International Religious Freedom and Southeast Asia, lead the Challenges and Strategies for Female Activists Workshop.

The international seminar provided a constructive forum for Uyghur women from around the world to discuss current challenges for indigenous women in East Turkestan.  Through presentations and trainings by international experts, parliamentarians, academics and human rights activists, participants were encouraged to engage in democracy and human rights advocacy.  The ultimate objective of the annual seminar is to empower Uyghur women to become key political activists in East Turkestan’s fight for freedom.

To read the full program for the seminar, please click here.

Further information on the seminar, please click here.

UNPO’s General Secretary, Marino Busdachin, addressed participants on the subject of the critical role women play in motivating and participating in positive discussion between opposing factions.  He urged Uyghur women to see dialogue as the central construct of their struggle and emphasized the importance of international involvement in and support of a campaign for effective discussion with Beijing.  After remarking that the United Nations should respond to unauthorized and illegal deportation of Uyghur refugees with greater authority, Busdachin concluded that Uyghur culture must and will survive, even in the face of great adversity and future obstacles.

Marino Busdachin speaks about the importance of dialogue at the Iv International Uyghur Women's Seminar

To read Marino Busdachin's Speech, please click here.

Media Coverage 

Delfi News Agency

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Radio Free Asia

Radio Free Asia II

Dogu Turkistan

Democracy Digest

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