A Uighur woman who was detained at internment camps in China’s Xinjiang region has arrived safely in the United States, a Uighur human rights group said on Saturday, ending a period of monthslong uncertainty over whether she would be forcibly repatriated back to China from her home in Kazakhstan.
Tursunay Ziyawudun had initially settled in Kazakhstan with her husband, who is a Kazakh citizen, after spending a grueling 10 months locked up without ever being charged with a crime. But last year, the Kazakh government told her she would have to return to China to apply for a new visa as a procedural matter. Returning to the country would have likely meant she would be detained again.
“We are tremendously relieved that Tursunay is now safe in the United States,” said Omer Kanat, the executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, in a statement, saying that she had already arrived safely, and that his organization is helping her resettle and access medical treatment for a serious health condition.
China has detained more than a million Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in mass internment camps since late 2016, according to independent estimates. The government has said the detentions were for “vocational training,” but former detainees, including Ziyawudun, have made clear they were brought to camps by force and said they endured humiliation, hunger, beatings, and regular interrogations, among other abuses.
The Chinese government claimed in December that those who went through the “vocational training” program had “graduated,” but a recent BuzzFeed News investigation found instead that construction of large, purpose-built internment camps and prisons is ongoing.
Ziyawudun’s lawyer said she believed the press coverage helped her case.
“Her situation required that her story be made public,” Aina Shormanbayeva, Ziyawudun’s lawyer in Kazakhstan, told BuzzFeed News.
Ziyawudun is among a small number of former detainees who have left China and spoken publicly about their experiences. The Washington, DC–based Uyghur Human Rights Project said her house had been set on fire “in suspicious circumstances” in February, after she started speaking out about her story. (Ziyawudun’s lawyer confirmed her house had burned down at the time.)
She later traveled to Istanbul for medical treatment, Shormanbayeva said, before receiving permission to travel to the US. She is still in the process of seeking refugee status in Kazakhstan, but Shormanbayeva said there are doubts that Kazakh government will grant her that status.
But, she added, the risk of Ziyawudun being forcibly sent back to China is gone.
“I hope that in the US she will be safe,” her lawyer said.
China’s foreign ministry is lashing out at Canada after a House of Commons subcommittee concluded that the state’s mistreatment of Uighurs living in Xinjiang province amounts to a policy of genocide.
The committee’s report, tabled Wednesday, says that China’s persecution of this Muslim minority — through mass detentions in concentration camps, forced labour, state surveillance and population control measures — is a clear violation of human rights and is meant to “eradicate Uighur culture and religion.”
The committee said that it agrees with the experts who say China’s campaign against the Uighurs meets the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said today that this “so-called genocide” is “a rumour and a farce fabricated by some anti-Chinese forces to slander China.”
“Its groundless statement is full of lies and disinformation,” he said of the committee’s report, warning parliamentarians to “avoid doing any further damage to China-Canada relations.
“This is blatant interference in China’s internal affairs and reflects those Canadian individuals’ ignorance and prejudice. China firmly deplores and rejects that.”
The subcommittee on international human rights, chaired by Liberal MP Peter Fonseca, heard from witnesses who survived the concentration camps China has built to suppress Muslims living in this oil-rich northwestern province.
Committee witnesses described “deplorable” conditions where they were psychologically, physically and sexually abused and subjected to forced assimilation and indoctrination into the dominant Chinese culture.
Asked about the camps, Zhao insisted they are “vocational training and education centres” where religious “extremists” were educated in the “national common spoken and written language, legal knowledge, vocational skills and de-radicalization.”
“The aim is to eliminate the root cause of terrorism and extremism,” he said.
The Commons committee also concluded that Chinese communist officials have forcibly sterilized Uighur women and girls and pushed abortions and intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) on hundreds of thousands in a systematic attempt “to persecute and possibly eradicate Uighurs.”
Uighurs make up less than one per cent of the population in a country where Mandarin-speaking ethnic Chinese people — the Han — constitute the overwhelming majority.
While the Turkic-speaking Uighurs are just a small ethnic subset, Chinese government documents obtained by the committee show that approximately 80 per cent of all new IUD placements in China took place in Xinjiang.
Birth rates continue to plummet across the region, falling nearly 24 per cent last year alone — compared to a drop of just 4.2 per cent nationwide — according to statistics compiled by the U.S.-based Jamestown Foundation. The population control measures are backed by mass detention, both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.
Witnesses also told committee members about a “poverty reduction” measure implemented by Beijing that forced Uighurs into camps to perform slave labour, making products that were to be sold in Canada and other western nations.
A recent report titled “Uighurs for sale” by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that thousands of Muslims have been used as forced labour in factories that supply companies like BMW, Nike and Huawei, among others.
The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uighur and other ethnic minority citizens from Xinjiang to factories across the country.
Under constant state surveillance through closed-circuit television cameras and mobile tracking devices, Uighur survivors have said they lived in constant fear.
They told committee members that Uighur expatriates are subjected to harassment and intimidation by the Chinese regime — even in Canada.
“The subcommittee unequivocally condemns the persecution of Uighur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang by the government of China,” the committee’s report reads. “The subcommittee is persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitute genocide.”
The committee said these control tactics are designed to suppress the Uighurs because they “desire more autonomy or independence from China,” and the communists consider them a “threat” to economic development and prosperity.
The committee is recommending the federal government condemn China’s abuse of Uighurs, work with allies to secure unfettered access to Xinjiang for international observers to prevent further abuse, recognize that China’s actions constitute genocide and impose sanctions on implicated officials through Canada’s so-called Magnitsky law.
That law allows the government to impose sanctions and freeze assets owned by foreign nationals and prohibit financial transactions by known human rights abusers.
The law is informally named after Russian tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured and died in a Moscow prison after documenting fraud in Russia.
“Canada needs to take immediate action and live up to the values it espouses at home and abroad,” says the report. “Canada must act now to address China’s aggression against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.”
Canada ‘deeply disturbed’ by Uighur abuse
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he is “deeply disturbed” by the troubling reports documented by the subcommittee.
He said he raised the issue of Uighur abuse with Michelle Bachelet, the UN commissioner for human rights, during a recent meeting in Switzerland.
Earlier this month, Canada and 37 allies also expressed “grave concerns” about the situation in Xinjiang at the UN, he said.
Champagne said the government would back a plan to send impartial advisers into the region to document the plight of the Uighurs.
“Canada takes the allegations of genocide very seriously. We will continue … with our allies to push for these to be investigated through an international independent body,” he said.
Champagne did not address a question about whether Canada would pursue Magnitsky sanctions like those slapped on Russian and Venezuelan officials in recent years.
This parliamentary report is the latest attempt by some MPs and senators to put pressure on the government to take a tougher stand against China.
In June, more than a dozen senators — including several appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — urged the federal government to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for “gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Citing China’s detention of Uighur Muslims, its crackdown on democratic rights in Hong Kong, its decades-long repression of Tibet and its imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the senators described the regime in Beijing as the “biggest threat to mankind and a danger to international security.”
China, which initially denied the camps’ existence, now says they are voluntary schools for anti-extremism training.
“I have to try and organise something so football players can get together and, in the meantime, talk about this matter because not a lot of people want to,” said ex-West Ham, Newcastle and Chelsea forward Ba.
“I know there are footballers who want to fight for justice, whether Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, any belief.
“As sportspeople, we have a power we don’t even know. If we get together and talk, things change. If we stand up, people stand up with us.”
The Premier League gave the go-ahead to public shows of support for the worldwide campaign for racial justice, set in motion by George Floyd’s death in policy custody in the United States in May.
Players from all clubs ‘took a knee’ before kick-off while player names on the back of shirts were replaced with the slogan Black Lives Matter after a collective request to the Premier League.
Ba is not the first footballer to speak out publicly for the Uighur cause.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver claims he refused requests from several Chinese partners that Morey be sacked.
Ba believes players are under pressure to stay silent on the Uighur.
“If there was a financial risk to Black Lives Matter, it would not have happened,” he added.
“Arsenal talked about Black Lives Matter but when it was about Uighur lives Arsenal didn’t want to talk about it because of the pressure and economic impact.
“When there are financial benefits, some people close their eyes. Money has more value than real values.
“I think clubs put a lot of pressure on players not to get involved but how can you not when you see the injustice with your own eyes?”
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has said the league’s support for players’ anti-racism message this summer does not set any precedent for similar displays being approved for different causes.
Ba, 35, plays for Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir, but spent three seasons with Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League before leaving in January 2019.
He says that, beyond having to wait for government-approved days to celebrate festivals, he did not have any problem practising his religion in China.
However, he says his former club have been contacted by Chinese authorities after he spoke out on social media.
He says it is unlikely any of his fans back in China would ever see any Premier League protest calling for Uighur rights.
“They love English football there, but trust me, controlling their people is more important for the government than entertaining them when there is the risk of these protests being seen,” he said.
Ba’s position has been supported by the Muslim Council of Britain.
“There remains no doubt that the Uighur people are facing ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Chinese government because of their Muslim faith,” a spokesperson said.
“The Premier League have allowed for Black Lives Matter to feature on the back of players’ shirts, while German clubs have allowed for the Black Lives Matter armband to be worn by players, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter cause – it was the right thing to do.
“Similar consideration should be shown when confronted with the horrors of ethnic cleansing. Maintaining silence in the name of neutrality in situations of injustice has never served humanity well.”
An international coalition has called on trend giants to crack source chains from the Xinjiang region of China and lower ties with individuals implicated in Uighur forced labor within just the subsequent 12 months.
The Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Location, an worldwide group of legal rights, civil modern society and trade organisations, warned that one-fifth of cotton clothes “in the world wide clothing current market are tainted by forced labour.”
A the latest report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute observed preferred brand names which includes Nike, Adidas, Lacoste, Puma, Zara and H&M were amongst dozens of companies utilising forced labour in their offer chains.
“We are contacting on top models and retailers to assure that they are not supporting or benefiting from the pervasive and substantial compelled labour of the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-bulk peoples, perpetrated by the Chinese authorities,” the group stated in a statement on its web-site.
Warning that “nearly just about every significant apparel brand and retailer advertising cotton solutions is most likely implicated,” it urged models and shops to exit the region “at each and every stage of their provide chain” no afterwards than 1 12 months following making the motivation.
It reported that a lot more than 200 organisations from over 35 international locations experienced endorsed its contact.
Extra than a person million Uighurs and mostly Muslim Turkic minorities have been rounded up in internment camps, according to human legal rights teams and gurus.
China contends that the services are vocational education centers exactly where Uighurs find out Mandarin and work techniques in purchase to steer them absent from extremism adhering to a spate of ethnic violence.
Major US suppliers responded to the phone to action on Thursday by indicating that rooting out compelled labor in their offer chains is a “vital priority”.
Nonetheless, a joint statement from the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade affiliation, and other marketplace groups, did not say if they would sign the get in touch with.
As a substitute, they wrote that the solution calls for “state-to-state engagement and collaborative partnerships throughout govt, market, labor advocacy teams, non-governmental organisations, and other stakeholders”.
The statement called for US leaders to create “a multi-stakeholder doing the job group to produce and deploy a collective tactic that accurately assesses the problem, identifies constructive remedies to improve transparency, and shields both the rights of staff and the integrity of world wide offer chains.”
WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump plans to sign legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for oppression of Uighur Muslims, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday without offering a time frame for the signing.
The bill, which passed the U.S. House and Senate with bipartisan support last month, calls for sanctions against those responsible for repression of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang province, where the United Nations estimates that more than a million Muslims have been detained in camps.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Editing by Franklin Paul)
FILE PHOTO: Police officers wearing face masks guard the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday backed legislation calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for China’s repression of its Uighur Muslim minority.
As voting continued, the vote was 323 in favor of the measure, with just one member opposed. Since the legislation has already passed the Senate, House approval would send the bill to the White House.
Congressional aides said they expected Trump to sign it into law.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler