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World Uyghur Congress December Newsletter

December 6, 2017 by admin

The World Uyghur Congress concluded its 6th General Assembly in Munich, Germany by maintaining its firm commitment to supporting the rights of the Uyghur population in East Turkestan.

Former President Rebiya Kadeer was approved by the delegates as new Special Leader, and the meeting also saw the election of long-time Uyghur activist and co-founder of the WUC, Dolkun Isa, as its new president and former vice-president, Omer Kanat, elected as Chairman of the Executive Committee.
Over 100 WUC delegates hailing from 18 countries met from November 10 to 12 to identify and prioritize the issues and challenges that the organization must address, and to develop a working strategy to advance the WUC mission of promoting freedom, human rights, and democracy for the Uyghur people. Delegates also participated in the WUC’s triennial leadership elections.
Delegates passed several resolutions underscoring the organization’s commitment to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the fundamental spirit of all the rights therein, and its founding principle of pursuing purely peaceful, non-violent action in support of its objectives.
In his remarks as the newly elected president, Dolkun Isa emphasized the spirit of unity among Uyghurs in exile and WUC’s duty to speak with moral clarity. He pledged to cooperate closely with all civil society and governments supporting freedom and justice, and expressed his firm conviction that the Uyghur people will someday realize their democratic rights and freedoms.

WUC Participates in 10th UN Forum on Minority Issues
Representatives from the World Uyghur Congress travelled to Geneva last week to participate in the 10th session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues. The central topic of this year’s Forum was ‘Minority Youth: towards inclusive and diverse societies’ and discussion were organised into 4 thematic panels focusing on the importance of education in ‘minority’ communities, youth public participation, strategies for using the digital space and empowering ‘minority’ youth as agents of change for peace and stability.
The WUC participated in the Forum’s discussions and put forward the concerns and difficulties that Uyghur youth face due to increasing restrictions and assimilatory policies enacted by the Chinese government. WUC Project Manager, Peter Irwin took the floor to speak about language rights among the Uyghur community in East Turkestan during the panel discussion on the importance of Education in minority communities. His intervention instigated a discussion amongst the panelists, with the UN Special Rapporteur assuring the participants that the right to language and education were priorities for his mandate.
On December 1st, the WUC, in cooperation with the Society for Threatened Peoples, held a successful side event entitled ‘Native Languages in a Contemporary World: Threats and Challenges for Youth‘ at the Minority Forum. The event gathered together speakers from diverse backgrounds to speak about the problems faced by ethnic minorities and restrictions on the use of their mother languages in particular. The event was attended by a number of participants to the Minority Forum and allowed for important discussion of some of the most relevant issues regarding language rights in China in particular. The World Uyghur Congress will continue to raise the Uyghur language issue in international fora to ensure that the international community is well aware of the developing problem.

WUC Holds Advocacy and Leadership Workshop
Building on previous workshops, the World Uyghur Congress held a Leadership and Advocacy Workshop from November 13-14, 2017 in Munich, Germany. The workshop focused on how best to advance the objectives of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) in the year ahead, given the state of international politics and a rising China today.
The workshop immediately followed the WUC’s 6th General Assembly (November 10-12, 2017), and enabled the new WUC leadership to focus on setting concrete and realistic objectives for advocacy. Participants of the workshop worked to develop an action plan and timeline for realizing these objectives. The participants produced concrete action plans for the WUC secretariat, for elected officers, and for national affiliates that will lead to more effective and coordinated advocacy efforts in the year ahead.

WUC Makes Statement on Recently Escaped Uyghur Asylum Seekers
The World Uyghur Congress issued a press release expressing its deep concerned over the treatment of Uyghurs who had recently escaped their immigration detention facility in southern Thailand. Consistent rhetoric from China has framed all Uyghurs escaping the country as criminals who should be immediately returned, renewing fears that Thailand may submit to such pressure, as in the past.
It was recently reported that 20 Uyghurs escaped their immigration detention facility in Thailand close to the Malaysian border, in the early hours of November 20th, using blankets as ladders to escape. As of Tuesday, November 22nd, ten have already been re-captured and reports indicate that others may have already crossed into Malaysia.
The Chinese government has already called on Thailand to “quickly bring to justice” those who escaped. Real concern remains over the use of problematic language in the past by China, who has largely framed the issue of Uyghurs escaping East Turkestan through Southeast Asia as one of criminality, despite no court ever weighing in on the case in that respect.
The WUC drew attention to the poor conditions endured by Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers, who had fled oppression in China, only to be detained and threatened with being forcibly returned to China in neighbouring countries. The press release also emphasised that it is utterly deplorable that no action has been taken and dozens of Uyghurs have remained in detention for nearly four years without charge. The international community and the UNHCR must press Thailand to relieve itself of the burden of holding the group and of the Uyghurs themselves who have waited far too long for deserved reprieve.

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