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Open letter from Rebiya Kadeer

September 08, 2008

Munich / Germany

We are extremely concerned about the recent crackdowns against Uyghur people by the Chinese authorities in retaliation to the latest unrest in East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China).

On behalf of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), we would like to bring to your attention to several urgent issues and we am hoping for your kind assistance in finding possible solutions to these acute concerns.

The main objective of the World Uyghur Congress is to promote democracy, human rights and freedom for the Uyghur people and use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine their political future. By representing the Uyghur people, as the sole legitimate organization both in East Turkestan and abroad, WUC endeavors to set out a course for the peaceful settlement of the East Turkestan question through dialogue and negotiation.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are now over. The Chinese government has completely failed to keep its promise to respect human rights; although the world's attention was concentrated on the human rights situation in China before and during the Games and the international community had hoped China would improve its human rights record. Instead, the situation has dramatically worsened. The imposition of strict restrictions on civil liberties as well as a massive campaign of arbitrary arrests in East Turkestan both in the name of "Olympic security" have contributed to the grossly deteriorating human rights situation.

We would like to present you with the facts since the beginning of 2008 until the opening of the 2008 Olympics. These facts are solely the information made public by the Chinese government.

  • On January 17, 2007, Chinese armed police forces killed five Uyghurs and captured 18 in the Pamir Mountains.
  • On January 27, 2008, a peaceful gathering of a group of Uyghurs was raided by Chinese security forces. As a result two Uyghurs were killed, six were wounded and another ten were arrested.
  • In the following days after a demonstration by Uyghur women on March 23 24, 2008 in Hotan, Chinese police arrested approximately 700 demonstrators.
  • On July 9, 2008, Chinese police stormed a building where a number of Uyghurs were meeting for a religious gathering. Five Uyghurs were killed, two injured and another eight arrested.
  • Chinese authorities sentence five Uyghurs with the death penalty sentence July 9, 2008, including Mr. Abduweli Imin and Mr. Muhter Setiwaldi, in a public announcement made by Kashgar Peoples Court.

All of these raids and killings were not justified. Furthermore, China has ignored every criticism voiced by the international community, has disregarded warnings by the European Parliament, the United States and other international institutions and has turned a blind eye to the concerns of democratic nations across the globe. Instead, China has continued to disrespect national and international laws and has continued its pursuit of heavy-handed repression against the people of East Turkestan.

Relentless "Strike Hard" campaigns by Chinese security forces have pushed some Uyghurs into desperation and few to a point of no return. As a result, some individual Uyghurs attacked Chinese military and government targets in Kashgar on August 4, 2008, and in Kucha on August 10, 2008. After these attacks the Chinese authorities declared virtual martial law in these cities and began to detain and arrest large numbers of Uyghurs. Such unjustified actions on the part of the Chinese authorities have created a vicious cycle and further escalated the tension between the Uyghurs and the Chinese government. On August 27, 2008, there was another attack on a police checkpoint in Peyziwat County, in the Kashgar region. Two officers and six suspected were killed.

Soon after the end of the Olympic Games, Chinese authorities began to conduct house-to-house searches. In retaliation to the events that had occurred during the Olympic Games, authorities arrested innocent Uyghurs as part of its massive crackdown on the entire Uyghur people in East Turkestan.

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