United Kingdom, please discuss the Uyghurs' plight at the 14th session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2010
- Foreign Secretary William Hague, Minister Jeremy Browne, and Ambassador Peter Gooderham
The Uyghur people are indigenous to East Turkestan [also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China]. For many years, the Chinese government has waged an intense and often brutal campaign to repress all forms of Uyghur dissent, crack down on Uyghurs' peaceful religious activities and independent expressions of ethnicity, dilute Uyghurs' culture and identity as a distinct people, and threaten the survival of the Uyghur language. The authorities have routinely equated Uyghurs' peaceful political, religious, and cultural activities with the "three evils" – terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. The authorities have also economically marginalized the Uyghurs in East Turkestan through intense and blatant racial/ethnic discrimination in employment.
This is a petition addressed to three United Kingdom officials: William Hague, the Secretary of State for the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Jeremy Browne, Foreign Office Minister of State; and Peter Gooderham, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UK to the United Nations in Geneva. The petition asks that during the general debate on Item 4 ("Human rights situations that require the Council's attention") at the 14th session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2010, the United Kingdom discuss the grave human rights violations that the authorities in China committed during -- and have committed in the aftermath of -- the peaceful Uyghur protest and the ethnic unrest in July 2009 in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkestan. These human rights violations have included, but have not been limited to, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, arbitrary sentencing of individuals to death after trials plagued with politicization and intense strangleholds on due process, and arbitrary executions.
This petition is open for signatories who live in the United Kingdom. Copies of the petition with signatures will be transmitted to Secretary Hague, Minister Browne, and Ambassador Gooderham, as well as to other officials in the UK government.
Dear Foreign Secretary Hague, Minister Browne, and Ambassador Gooderham:
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that during the general debate on Item 4 (“Human rights situations that require the Council’s attention”) at the 14th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2010, the United Kingdom discuss the grave and egregious human rights violations that the Chinese government committed during – and has committed in the aftermath of – the peaceful Uyghur protest and the ethnic unrest that occurred in July 2009 in Urumchi, the regional capital of East Turkestan [also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China].
These human rights violations have included but have not been limited to the following:
(1) The Chinese authorities brutally suppressed the peaceful Uyghur protest that was held on July 5, 2009. Numerous witness accounts provided to human rights organizations abroad (including but not limited to Uyghur organizations) – as well as witness accounts provided to the media – indicated that security forces committed extrajudicial killings of protestors.
(2) The authorities have subjected an untold number of Uyghurs, including minors, to arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances.
(3) The Intermediate People’s Court of Urumchi has arbitrarily sentenced at least 24 Uyghurs to death, at least 8 Uyghurs to death with a two-year reprieve, and many others to life terms and other jail terms, in connection with the July 2009 events, after non-transparent trials plagued with intense politicization and severe lack of due process. The appellate courts have upheld all of the sentences on which they have rendered decisions so far and have done so after non-transparent reviews.
(4) The authorities have conflated peaceful protest on July 5th with rioting, which is consistent with the government’s routine criminalization of Uyghurs’ peaceful exercise of freedom of expression. Official statements and state media reports have suggested that some acts of peaceful protest would be formally subjected to criminal prosecution and an XUAR official acknowledged that the authorities were holding in custody people who had protested peacefully on July 5th. Individuals who are only accused of having peacefully protested in July 2009 are even at risk of execution, for according to Amnesty International, with the exception of one Tibetan case, the XUAR is the only place in China where prisoners of conscience have been executed in recent years.
(5) Legitimate, valid concerns exist that Uyghurs who have been detained in connection with the July 2009 incidents have been subjected to brutal torture in detention. For many years, the authorities have routinely subjected Uyghur detainees and prisoners to torture and other forms of ill treatment.
(6) In December 2009, the Chinese government arbitrarily detained 20 Uyghurs upon their forcible return to China by Cambodia. The Chinese government had pressured Cambodia to violate international law and forcibly return these 20 Uyghurs who were seeking asylum in Cambodia and were at risk of torture and persecution based on their membership in protected classes if returned to China. The Chinese government has refused to publicly disclose the whereabouts, conditions, and legal statuses of the 20 Uyghurs, despite international calls to do so.
(7) For many months in the aftermath of the July 2009 incidents, the XUAR authorities implemented an information blackout in the region, obstructing residents’ internet and e-mail access and international phone calling and text messaging capabilities. The authorities have slowly restored the information infrastructure in East Turkestan over the last several months. However, the restoration has come amid government warnings and a newly-enacted regulation further repressing residents’ speech on the internet, in text messages, and in phone calls. The restoration has also occurred against the background of the continued detention of a significant number of Uyghur webmasters, bloggers, and journalists who were arrested after July 5, 2009.
In addition to discussing some or all of the aforementioned human rights violations, we respectfully request that during the general debate on Item 4, the United Kingdom call on China to take one or more of the following actions:
(1) Ensure that those accused of crimes related to the events of July 2009 are afforded due process, tried in an open and fair court, and given access to legal representation of their choice;
(2) Impose a moratorium on executions and on the imposition of death sentences;
(3) Immediately and unconditionally release all those who are only alleged to have protested peacefully on July 5th;
(4) End arbitrary detentions and provide a full account of all of the detentions that have been carried out since July 5th, inform family members of detainees’ whereabouts, and release detainees who have been held without evidence;
(5) Allow foreign media independent, unrestricted access to conduct reporting throughout East Turkestan and to report on trials of defendants accused of crimes related to the July 2009 events;
(6) Allow an independent investigation into the July 2009 incidents and invite the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the various UN Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts to visit East Turkestan;
(7) Ensure that detainees and prisoners are not subjected to torture and other forms of ill treatment, thoroughly investigate reports of torture, and bring those suspected of using torture to justice;
(8) Address the root causes of the July 5th protest and the ethnic unrest, including the severe political and religious repression and economic discrimination to which Uyghurs are subjected and the dilution of Uyghurs’ language and culture.
Thank you very much for your time and attention to our requests.
The United Kingdom, please discuss the Uyghurs' plight at the 14th session of the UN Human Rights Council in June 2010 petition to Foreign Secretary William Hague, Minister Jeremy Browne, and Ambassador Peter Gooderham was written by Kathy Polias and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.