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30 August 2022

Fore Immediate Release:  08:00 Hours (CET)

Subject: The International Day of Victim of Enforced Disappearances                                         

Contact: Enver Can  +491738912048, enver.can@web.de

We commemorate the 30th of August, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, with sorrow and dismay as at least more than 300 Uyghur intellectuals are detained, imprisoned or forcefully disappeared.

The Chinese state targeting of Uyghur intellectual and cultural elites centers on their role in expressing a distinct identity and culture. These learned and creative individuals are carriers of Uyghurs’ cultural memory. As researchers and innovators, they also represent the diversity of Uyghur intellectual and artistic currents. The persecution of elites deprives Uyghurs of the right to define themselves and is nothing less than a form of eliticide that effectively destroys any hope of collective resistance to the Chinese government’s campaign to ideologically Uyghurs. The Uyghur eliticide is a key tool to control — or perhaps altogether annihilate — Uyghur identity (1).

The practice of enforced disappearances constitutes a serious human rights violation that cannot be justified by any circumstance, regardless of its exceptionality. Since 2017, Uyghurs living outside China started losing contact with their family members at home and this continues to date. More than a Million of Uyghurs and members of other Turkic peoples placed into large scale internment(concentration) camps where they are subjected to political indoctrination, torture and miserable conditions. Now, almost every family in the Uyghur diaspora has a missing relative or loved one.

Those detained in the camps have effectively disappeared, as they are not allowed any contact with anyone outside the camps and have no access to judicial or legal remedies. They were not provided with a warrant or given a trial before their forced detention. No formal charges have been levied against any of them and they are being held for unspecified periods of time. The camps therefore constitute one of the largest cases of state-sponsored enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention in modern human history.

China has tried to expand its repressive regime abroad, there have been multiple occasions whereby Uyghur refugees or asylum seekers have been forcibly returned after Chinese pressure on  foreign governments. In the past two decades over 300 Uyghurs have been forcibly returned from 17 different countries and have disappeared on their return. 

Now, many repressive governments worldwide have felt free to crack down on any form of dissent with impunity. This also applies to China, whose government under the authoritarian leadership of the China Communist Party (CCP)’s chairman, Xi Jinping, has embarked on an extensive campaign to silence political dissent and to crack down on any expression of religion or ethnicity that does not conform with the Party’s guidelines.

Indeed, in light of the arbitrary detention of more than one million of Uyghurs in internment camps over the past five years, the CCP has used enforced disappearances on many occasions against the Uyghur people, which thereby has become part of the Chinese government’s genocidal campaign to control and destroy the Uyghur ethnicity, culture and religious beliefs in all their forms.

Considering these practices, it remains unconscionable that China continues to be able to use enforced disappearance as a tool of control and repression of the Uyghur people with impunity. It is unjustifiable that Chinese authorities have never been made to answer for the disappeared or held to account by the international community.  On this occasion, Enver Can, the founding President of the Ilham Tohti Initiative, says China is erasing an ancient culture of a Nation (the Uyghur people) in 21st century as the world Community watching idle. The United Nations Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention, and Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, should contact the Chinese government and request information on more than 300 individuals whose cases we have catalogued.We estimate the real number of these intellectuals are much more than that!

The Ilham Tohti Initiative holds today a Foto Exhibition in Munich, Marianplatz in front of the City Hall (11:00-15:00 Hours) for the memory of all victims of forcefully disappeared peoples around the world with pictures of two dozen detained, imprisoned or  disappeared Uyghur intellectuals.

(1)UHRP Report Abdullah Qazanchi, Abduweli Ayup, Elise Anderson, and Henryk Szadziewski

February 11, 2022

Address: Ilham Tohti Initiative e.V.: Eichenstrasse 19, 85235 Odelzhausen-Germany

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