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Uyghur News Recap: Oct. 6-13, 2023

The Chinese government forcibly sends Uyghurs to work in various industries, including seafood processing for export, as part of its control and assimilation efforts, according to a report in The New Yorker, published in collaboration with the Outlaw Ocean Project.

Despite the U.S. passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, the seafood industry’s use of Uyghur labor remains largely unnoticed, with Uyghurs working in factories in Shandong Province.

Uyghur Academic Awarded 2023 PEN Writer of Courage

Rahile Dawut, a prominent Uyghur academic and expert on Uyghur folklore, has been named the 2023 PEN Writer of Courage. Dawut, an associate professor at Xinjiang University and founder of a research center on minority folklore, disappeared in 2017 and her whereabouts remain unknown. Recently, Chinese officials revealed that she had been sentenced to life in prison on charges of endangering state security. Her case is seen as a violation of freedom of expression, and there are calls for her immediate release. The award was accepted on her behalf by Rachel Harris, a professor of ethnomusicology at SOAS University of London.

US Companies Linked to Uyghur Forced Labor in Chinese Gold Mines

A report released Wednesday uncovers that gold mined by Uyghurs in forced labor conditions in Xinjiang is finding its way into Western investments and products. The report by the Washington-based nonprofit organization, Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), warns that global supply chains using Chinese gold and related investment funds are at high risk of human rights violations linked to Uyghur labor. Well-known Western companies, including Dell, Google and Sony, are indirectly connected to gold from Xinjiang, according to the report.

Uyghur Families in Pakistan Face Deportation Amid Government Crackdown

Around 20 Uyghur families in Pakistan risk deportation as the government plans to expel all undocumented migrants following recent Afghan-related suicide bombings. Pakistan has said it will deport those without valid permits beginning Nov. 1. This includes Uyghurs who fled Afghanistan but lack required documents. Despite seeking help from the U.N., they face an uncertain future, with fears of deportation to Afghanistan or even China.

China’s Reelection to UN Human Rights Council Sparks Criticism

China’s reelection to the U.N. Human Rights Council is strongly condemned by rights groups and activists. More than 80 rights groups said in a statement that China actively undermines human rights protections and is “demonstrably unfit” for council membership. China was one of 15 members Tuesday reelected to the 47-member council.

China’s ‘Eliticide’ Campaign: Erasing Uyghur Culture and Intellectuals

Experts say that China is imprisoning Uyghur intellectuals in an “eliticide” strategy to eliminate Uyghur culture, with prominent scholars like Rahile Dawut and Ilham Tohti sentenced to life on charges of “separatism.” This crackdown has led to the disappearance of hundreds of Uyghur intellectuals since 2016, sparking concerns against the erasure of Uyghur identity. China denies the accusations, justifying internment camps and prisons to combat extremism. Most families have had no contact with their imprisoned loved ones since they were detained.

Uyghur Villagers Detained in Xinjiang Ahead of China’s National Day

Before China’s National Day, authorities conducted a security operation in Xinjiang, detaining over 50 Uyghur villagers from two communities. The operation primarily targeted Uyghurs who were under 18 years old at the time of mass arrests in 2017 and those who had previously avoided capture. Over 200 people are currently in detention in the two communities, a mix of those arrested in 2017-2018 and individuals detained this year. Authorities have historically detained people during significant events to maintain stability in Xinjiang.

News in brief

In late 2016, Sehibe Sayramoglu and her husband sought refuge in Turkey, far from their homeland in Xinjiang. Tragically, Sehibe lost contact with her 23-year-old brother in Xinjiang in July of this year, later discovering he had been detained. She turned to Voice of America, sharing her brother’s ordeal. An officer from China’s Ministry of State Security proposed a deal for his release in exchange for removing her Twitter posts, including the Voice of America report. Local police also threatened her family. She reluctantly complied, revealing her family’s plight. This incident mirrors a pattern exposed in a recent U.S. State Department report, China’s Covert Tactics: Silencing Dissent Internally, Spreading Propaganda Globally, detailing China’s intimidation tactics and foreign information manipulation efforts, all while denying allegations of human rights abuses.

Quote of note

“I don’t believe he [Chinese Ministry of State Security official] contacted us voluntarily. Before my brother’s arrest, he often inquired about our situation in Turkey. However, following the arrest, despite our numerous attempts to contact him, he remained unresponsive. It was only after I raised awareness about my brother’s situation on Twitter that he reached out to us. I don’t think this was a coincidence; I suspect he was instructed by the Chinese Ministry of State Security to contact us. It appears he was assigned to monitor our family in Turkey, and when I spoke out, he was directed to make contact. He even suggested to my husband that if I deleted my Twitter posts, he could help and inform the authorities that my brother is not a problematic individual. In response, I temporarily removed my tweets about my brother.” — Sehibe Sayramoglu, sister of a Uyghur detainee in Xinjiang.

Source : VOA News