UNPO Calls For Support Against Coercive Geopolitical Puppeteering
Brussels, 30 June 2014 - With the aim of providing a better understanding of the complexities that shape the lives of nations and ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in various geopolitical hotspots, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen – Bayern (the German Green Party in Bavaria), in collaboration with UNPO and the World Uyghur Congress, and with the participation of the International Campaign for Tibet, organized a conference on 27 June 2014 at the Bavarian State Parliament in Munich, Germany. The starting point of the discussions was centered around the idea that the struggles for territory, power and recognition render various nations, peoples and minorities as pawns or puppets of the international system, since they represent a threat to the status quo, which further vilifies the claims of communities on the margins.
In her opening remarks, Ms Margarete Bause, Chairwoman and Member of the Bavarian Parliament (Greens), affirmed that human rights are a policy of peace. Ms Barbara Lochbihler, MEP and Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, stated that her work at the European Parliament has also focused on the extensive list of human rights abuses in the People's Republic of China, including “severe ethnic discrimination against the Uyghur people, leading to arrests, and even ill treatment in prisons and disappearances”. She also expressed her hopes that the human rights situation of Uyghur people will be on the agenda of the European Parliament, and that peaceful strategies to resolve the inter-ethnic disputes will be developed.
Mr Bernd Posselt, a German politician and former MEP, stressed the need to internationalize the Crimean Tatar question due to the dangerous silence and lack of public debate. He proposed several possible instruments to intensify the support for the Crimean Tatar people, such as to observe the situation in the region and to organize a very strong opposition against the active strategy of the Russian authorities. Ms Jean Lambert, MEP, questioned what could be done, emphasizing the importance of nations, peoples, and minorities to reassert their rights to their identity, culture, language, and self-determination.
Dr Fional McConnell, Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, argued that margins are about unequal power relations, which affect all UNPO Members. While various nations are seen as powerless players in international politics, Ms Elena Gaita, International Campaign for Tibet, presented a different view; assimilationist policies have actually empowered Tibetan nationalism and strengthened resistance movements. Mr Erkin Alptekin, Former President of WUC, presented the audience with a historical background to the tensions in East Turkestan. Mr Dolkun Isa, WUC, rallied that it is the responsibility of all international actors to assert pressure on China to cease its repressive and discriminatory policies. Dr Elzbieta Kuzborska argued that in light of increasing violence and discrimination faced by Crimean Tatars, both Ukraine and Russia have a responsibility to safeguard the protection of minorities, while also granting full access to international humanitarian organizations, and ensuring the prosecution of perpetrators of violations. Dr Mieste Hotopp-Riecke called for concrete actions, instead of “paper tigers”. The final panelist, Mr Abduraman Egiz, Member of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, spoke about how Crimea, his homeland, has become a “frontline of international confrontation”.
The conference closed with a declaration adopted by the participants and presented by Mr Marino Busdachin, UNPO General Secretary. It reaffirms the need to protect the human rights of all individuals residing in geostrategic hotspots, particularly in times of volatility, during which minorities are particularly vulnerable to human rights abuses and are exposed to disproportionate suffering. It calls on Western democracies and international organizations to be more diligent in their human rights policies, to find a common language, to avoid double-standards, promote dialogue and redress of underlying strife in the quest for justice.
You can find the conference declaration here.
You can find the Post-Conference Press Release here.
You can find the .pdf verion of the Announcement Press Release here.
You can find the agenda here.