Today (March 11th, 2020) at 9:30am members of the United States Congress, experts, scholars, members of the press and concerned citizens including Uyghur American Association members convened at Rayburn House Office Building for the roundtable Global Supply Chains, Forced Labor, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The event, held by the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), focused on Chinese government-sponsored forced labor in, and from, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Esteemed panelists—Executive Director of the Worker Rights Consortium Scott Nova, Chief of Staff and Director of Engagement at the Fair Labor Association Shelly Han, Rule of Law Director at the Solidarity Center Jeffrey Vogt, and Director of Campaign for Uyghurs Rushan Abbas—discussed the forced labor of Uyghur and other Turkic minorities throughout China, the persistence of this forced labor in global supply chains, and the ineffectiveness of audits and other labor compliance mechanisms in holding the Chinese government and complicit companies accountable for exploiting forced labor.
In addition to the vibrant discussion from panelists, members of Congress—Senators Marco Rubio (FL) and Jeff Merkley (OR); Representatives Tom Suozzi (NY), Jennifer Wexton (VA), Chris Smith (NJ), and Jim McGovern (MA)—gave powerful remarks calling on the international community to join them to end Chinese government-sponsored forced labor practices immediately. Leading the fight to ensure the Chinese Communist Party no longer commits these heinous crimes with impunity, CECC Chair and Co-Chair, Congressman McGovern and Senator Rubio respectively, introduced the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in both the House and the Senate today.
On the evening of March 6, 2020, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum hosted the public program China’s Systematic Persecution of Uyghurs. Hundreds of Uyghur Americans and others from the community listened to powerful speeches from Massachusetts Congressman, Co-Chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission James McGovern, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback, and Director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide Naomi Kikoler. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum volunteer and Holocaust survivor Dr. Alfred Munzer delivered a chilling, but heartening, story of his childhood in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, and how a selfless Indonesian-Dutch, Muslim family saved his life. His father and sisters perished, but his mother, against all odds, survived twelve concentration camps to eventually reunite with her son.
Following the opening speeches, a panel discussion with Executive Director of Campaign for Uyghurs Rushan Abbas, Senior Editor of ChinaFile Jessica Batke, Director of Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service Alim Seytoff, and Senior Fellow in China Studies at Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Dr. Adrian Zenz shed light on the appalling crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in China, including forced labor, physical and psychological torture, religious suppression, arbitrary detention, sterilization, and starvation. Audience questions focused on what ordinary people can do to stop the atrocities, and esteemed panelists encouraged folks to spread awareness of the current plight of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples to family, friends, and policymakers. Panel experts also urged folks to be conscious consumers and stop buying products from companies that are profiting from Uyghur forced labor.
This is the first time US Holocaust Memorial Museum officially called China’s atrocities ‘Crimes against Humanity’
Uyghur American Association members and other women’s activists of the US attended the 2020 International Women of Courage award at the State Department on 3/4/2020. Sayragul Savutbay is a Kazakh activist who bravely told the truth of concentration camps to the world despite the threats of the Chinese government. She received her award from the Secretary of State and the first Lady, Melenia Trump. The Uyghur community in the DMV area thanked her for standing up against injustice
Uyghur American Association (UAA) and Uyghur Human Rights Project ( UHRP) joined forces to lobby Democratic and Republican Senators during our two-day advocacy event. On Wednesday and Thursday (3/4 and 3/5), we met with over 20 Senate offices representing states across the country. Focusing on members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Banking Committees, we lobbied for the swift passage of S.178 – Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. In addition, we updated Senators and their staff on forced labor, the growing Coronavirus threat, hunger, and other pertinent issues our people are facing in East Turkistan. We are thrilled that after meeting with Senator Todd Young of Indiana, He decided to become S.178’s 49th co-sponsor, bringing us closer to passing the bill! We are so thankful to Senator Young for his support, to the Senators and their staff who listened to our stories, and for the community members who joined us. Democracy in action works!
Uyghur American Association (UAA) and Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) jointly held a press conference today on February 26, 2020 at the National Press Conference on the threat of Coronavirus and the food shortages for Uyghurs both inside and outside of concentration camp. Reporters from various media channels were present. In addition, Uyghur community members including concentration camp survivors Mihrigul Tursun and Zumret Davut attended the press conference and described the conditions of the concentration camps. Discussion topics included the high potential of coronavirus spread in concentration camps and its devastating outcome, threats of starvation both inside and outside of concentration camps and forced Uyghur labor transfers to factories in inner China (e.g., Hunan) despite the existing threat of coronavirus there. The press conference was concluded by Uyghurs demanding a special group of envoys to be sent to Uyghur region to investigate the concentration camps conditions and the starvation of Uyghurs outside the camp. Washington Post and other well-known news channels published detailed articles on the content of this press conference
Uyghur American Association and Anacare & Education co-hosted the International Mother Language day event at the Uyghur center in Virginia on 2/21/2020. The guest of honor, Abduveli Ayyup gave an inspiring speech on the importance of preserving our mother Uyghur language and roles of parents in teaching and preserving Uyghur language. Uyghur School students performed many Uyghur poems, plays and songs to celebrate our mother language.
The Uyghur American Association (UAA) has actively been raising awareness on the risk of potential spread of Wuhan Coronavirus (Covid-19) to an extremely vulnerable population in concentration camps in East Turkistan.
In this effort, UAA has requested meetings with World Health Organization (WHO) and US government to discuss this very urgent matter. As a result, on Feb 7th 2020, Kuzzat Altay, the president of Uyghur American Association, along with two Uyghur medical scientist, Dr. Maysem Mutalipova, Director of the Human Stem Cell lab at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Sciences at MIT, and Dr. Mehmet Emin, a scientist at Columbia University Medical Center, met with White House official in the morning and State Department officials in the afternoon to discuss the high risk of potential spread of coronavirus in concentration and forced labor camp in Uyghur region and its potential catastrophic outcome. During the meeting, the importance of closing the concentration camps to give detainees a right to protect themselves was emphasized given the extremely unsanitary conditions in those overcrowded camps. It was requested that closing the concentration camp immediately should be part of global effort against the spread of the virus
On February 5, 2020 in remembrance of Ghulja massacre on Feb 5th of 1997, UAA organized a protest in front of Chinese Embassy against China’s continuous violations of basic human rights for Uyghurs and other Turkic ethnic groups inside China.
On February 9, 2020 Uyghur American Association held a Ghulja Massacre Remembrance event at the Uyghur Center. Ghulshen Abduqadir, the author of the book “February 5th Reports” gave a presentation on what had truly happened during 2/5/1997 in Ghulja. The witnesses of the Ghulja Massacre shared their personal stories. Question and Answer session ended with a dua for the Martyrs of the Ghulja Massacre.
Uyghur American Association organized another Advocacy Day event at the Hill today, January 15, 2020. More than 20 Uyghur members visited the Senate buildings to hand deliver thank you letters to the Senators for supporting the Uyghur cause. We knocked every Senator’s door to remind them of the urgency of passing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019.
Uyghur American Association organized a Uyghur Youth visual storytelling workshop under the supervision of the American artist and human rights activist Erika Berg on Saturday January 11, 2020.
Young Uyghurs learned how to express their personal stories, emotions and experiences through their paintings. Nobody was a professional artist; these paintings were reflections of their struggle in life. Most of the paintings had similar themes: Missing home, fear of concentration camps, the inability to communicate with family members and dreaming of going home. It was a way of revealing the pain and hope in their hearts.
Uyghur Americans attended the press conference for 2019 congressional executive commission on China report on January 8, 2020 in the US Capitol building. Many of us were holding the pictures of our innocent family members who are in China’s concentration camps during the press conference.
Uyghur American Association hosted amazing new year event on 12/31/2019 in Washington DC area with over 500 community members. The new year event was a symbol of Uyghur community’s solidarity and a showcase of our beautiful and rich culture that cannot be destroyed. We, Uyghurs, will strive to preserve our identity, rich culture and most importantly, our existence! UAA declared 2020 to be resurrection year for the Uyghurs. Also Ferkat Jawdet received the ‘2019 mother of the year award” on behalf of his Mother Minevver Tursun.
UAA organized Advocacy training event on Sunday December 8, 2019 at the Uyghur Center. Approximately 100 patriotic Uyghurs attended the advocacy preparation meeting. In that meeting, Nuri Turkel provided the participants with some basic knowledge on the US laws and legislative processes. Then Elfidar Iltebir and Tumaris Almas shared UAA’s plan and strategies with the community.
On 12/2/2019, Uyghur community members from the DMV got together with an urgent UAA call and visited over 300 House Representatives DC offices to advocate our bill that will be on the floor on 12/3/2019.
There were about 40 Uyghurs who knocked on each door one by one to inform others of the Uyghurs plight and ask congress members to support the Uighur Act of 2019 (Bill S. 178) that condemns China for its gross human rights violations against Uyghurs and other minorities.