World Uyghur Congress

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World Uyghur Congress
World-uyghur-congress-logo.jpg
World Uyghur Congress logo
Abbreviation WUC
Formation April 16, 2004; 14 years ago (2004-04-16)
Type Non-Profit NGO
Purpose Promote democracy, human rights and freedom for the Uyghur people.[1]
Headquarters Munich, Germany
Region served
International
Official languages
Uyghur (de facto)
English, German
Turkish, Chinese
President
Dolkun Isa
Key people
Rebiya Kadeer
(Special Leader)
Erkin Alptekin
(Chief Advisor)
Affiliations

World Uyghur Youth Congress, East Turkestan National Congress

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization
Website www.uyghurcongress.org

The World Uyghur Congress (Uyghur: دۇنيا ئۇيغۇر قۇرۇلتىيى‎, ULY: Dunya Uyghur Qurultiyi, USY:Дунйа Уйғур Қурултийи, ; Chinese: 世界维吾尔代表大会; pinyin: Shìjiè Wéiwúěr Dàibiǎo Dàhuì; abbreviated WUC) is an international organisation of exiled Uyghur groups that aspires to "represent the collective interest of the Uyghur people"[2] both inside and outside of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (also called East Turkestan) of the People's Republic of China. The World Uyghur Congress describes itself as a nonviolent and peaceful movement that opposes what it considers to be the Chinese occupation of East Turkestan, and advocates rejection of totalitarianism, religious intolerance and terrorism as an instrument of policy.[3] The Congress is funded in part by the National Endowment for Democracy or NED of US.[4]

The Congress was formed in mid-April 2004 at a meeting in Munich, Germany, as a collection of various exiled Uyghur groups including the World Uyghur Youth Congress (WUYC) and East Turkestan National Congress (ETNC).[5] Dolkun Isa is the current president, elected in November 2017. A prominent Uyghur activist, Isa has been living in Germany since 1996 after fleeing from China.

Formation[edit]

The World Uyghur Congress is an umbrella term for an organisation of once small, weak and fractious Uyghur nationalist groups, including the World Uyghur Youth Congress, formed in November 1996[6] and the East Turkestan National Congress.[7] On 18 April 2004, these groups united, with Erkin Alptekin serving as the first president and Dolkun Isa is General Secretary since 2004 of the unified group; he served until 2006, when Rebiya Kadeer was elected as at the second General Assembly meeting held on 24–27 November 2006.[8][9] The Congress has convened six assemblies since its inception—in 2004, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2016 and 2017. As part of the East Turkestan independence movement, it is a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. The organisation itself is based primarily in Munich, where a large Uyghur diaspora lives.[10] There are no known links between the WUC and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.[11]

Objectives[edit]

Uyghur protest event in Munich, Germany

The WUC has accused former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong of "colonizing" Xinjiang and reneging on promises to allow self-determination for the region.[12] According to the WUC, its main aim is to "promote the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan." It has declared its intention to work with world governments and form a "peaceful opposition" to the policies of the Chinese government in Xinjiang,[5] whose treatment of Uyghurs, it alleges, risk turning the region into a "time bomb".[13] The first president, Erkin Alptekin, described the Han Chinese as "colonists who want to replace us with their own people and assimilate those of us who remain, wiping out our culture."[14] The Congress has also said China is exaggerating the threat from terrorists in order to justify repression in the region.[15]

The Congress, like the Uyghur American Association based in Washington, D.C., use mass media and their own websites in an aim to inform the international community of alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. It has been described as "cyber-separatism" which is supported in part by wealthy Uyghurs in the Middle East.[16] Some newspapers in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan reprint articles from the websites in Uyghur and Russian.[17]

Leadership[edit]

Steering Committee[edit]

As the Congress is made up of a number of Uyghur groups internationally, its leaders are based in a number of countries.

Position Name Location
President Dolkun Isa Germany
Special Leader Rebiya Kadeer USA
Chief Advisor Erkin Alptekin Germany
Vice President Perhat Muhemmed
Erkin Ekrem
Germany
Turkey
Chairman of the Executive Committee Omer Kanat USA
Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee Semet Abla
Erkin Exmet
Turkey
Kazakhstan
Spokesperson Dilshat Reshit Sweden
Director of the Youth Committee Haiyuer Kuerban Germany

The Congress also maintains representatives in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom.[9] President Kadeer met former United States President George Bush in June 2007,[18] and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in October the same year.[19]

The President Dolkun Isa is on the Red Notice List of the International Criminal Police Organization, though the German government does not recognize the notice, nor does the United States. Fair Trials, an organization working "for fair trials according to internationally-recognised standards of justice" has noted that in practice, "INTERPOL’s Red Notices are being used as political tools by NCBs, and are being issued and maintained on the basis of criminal cases which have been recognised as being politically-motivated by extradition courts and asylum authorities."[20]

President[edit]

Dolkun Isa is a former student-leader of the pro-democracy demonstrations at Xinjiang University in 1988. He founded the Students’ Science and Culture Union at the university in 1987 and worked on programs to eliminate illiteracy and to promote science and to lead other students in East Turkestan. He was then dismissed from university but completed his physics degree via independent study, and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Politics and Sociology from Gazi University in Turkey and a degree in Computer Science in Munich, Germany. After enduring persecution from the Chinese government, Isa fled China in 1994 and sought asylum in Europe, and became a citizen of Germany in 2006. [21]

Former Presidents[edit]

Erkin Alptekin (born July 4, 1939 in Kashgar) is a Uyghur activist. From Germany, he has helped found many Uyghur nationalist organizations, the best known of which are the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and the World Uyghur Congress. Alptekin is the son of Isa Alptekin, who in 1933-1934 was the General Secretary of the First East Turkestan Republic in western China.[22] After the Peaceful Liberation of Xinjiang in 1949 and succession by the new People's Republic of China, Alptekin's family fled to Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. There he attended Catholic school and then Convent College,[23] completing his studies in the Institute of Journalism in Istanbul.[9] Alptekin is based in Germany.[24]

Rebiya Kadeer (born 15 November 1946) is an ethnic Uyghur, businesswoman, and political activist. Born in city of Altay of China, Kadeer became a millionaire in the 1980s through her real estate holdings and ownership of a multinational conglomerate. Kadeer held various positions in China's parliament and other political institutions before being arrested in 1999 for, according to Chinese state media, sending confidential internal reference reports to her husband, who worked in the United States as a pro-Xinjiang independence broadcaster. After she fled to the United States in 2005 on compassionate release, Kadeer assumed leadership positions in overseas Uyghur organizations such as the World Uyghur Congress. Kadeer speaks Uyghur and Mandarin Chinese.

General Assemblies[edit]

1st General Assembly[edit]

On 18 April, 2004, the first General Assembly of World Uyghur Congress was hold in Munich, Germany. In the Assembly, the World Uyghur Youth Congress, which was formed in November 1996, and the East Turkestan National Congress declared their unification by forming the World Uyghur Congress. At this assembly, Erkin Alptekin was elected as the first president and Memet Tohti as the Vice-president. [25]

2nd General Assembly[edit]

From November 24 to 27, 2008, the World Uyghur Congress has successfully held its Second Assembly in Munich, Germany. WUC delegates from the United States, Canada, the Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attended this assembly. Prominent Uyghur political leader and human rights activist Ms. Rebiya Kadeer was unanimously elected as the new President of World Uyghur Congress. Ms. Kadeer’s election has given new hope and strength for WUC and the Uyghur people all around the world. [26]

3rd General Assembly[edit]

From May 21-25, 2009, the World Uyghur Congress successfully held its Third General Assembly in Washington D.C.. WUC delegates from the United States, Canada, the Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan attended this assembly. Held in conjunction with the meeting was a conference on the Uyghur conflict entitled, East Turkestan: 60 Years under Communist Chinese Rule, that took place on May 18th and 19th, prior to the Assembly. During the week beginning on Monday, May 18th – officially designated by the WUC as “Uyghur Week” –WUC delegates, Uyghur human right activists, government officials, legislators and academics attended these two important events.[27]

4th General Assembly[edit]

From May 14 to 17, 2012, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) successfully held its 4th General Assembly in Tokyo, Japan, attended by more than 120 Uyghur delegates from 20 countries around the world. During the four-day assembly, delegates in six commissions discussed new strategies for the peaceful promotion of human rights and democracy for the Uyghur people, in light of China’s current political conditions and its upcoming change of political leadership later this year. They also held a peaceful protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo with the participation of Japanese supporters. During the rally, a representative delivered a letter to the Chinese government calling for an end to ongoing grave human rights abuses suffered by Uyghurs in their homeland. Japanese and international media covered the protest. During the Assembly, Uyghur delegates also elected a new WUC leadership. Uyghur democracy leader Ms. Rebiya Kadeer was re-elected as WUC President.[28]

5th General Assembly[edit]

On July 13, 2016, the World Uyghur Congress, under the cosponsorship of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and the Uyghur Association of France (Association des Ouïghours de France) successfully completed its 5th General Assembly in Paris, France. The Assembly brought together over 140 WUC delegates from 18 countries to elect new representation, amend the Charter of the organization and to discuss a forward-looking strategic advocacy plan over the next four years. The public opening session brought together members of the Uyghur community with representatives of civil society in France as well as WUC affiliate organizations from around the world to highlight the successes of those groups as well potential areas for improvement. Speeches during the ceremony were delivered by WUC President, Rebiya Kadeer and UNPO Secretary General, Marino Busdachin, along with leaders of WUC affiliate organizations.[29]

6th General Assembly[edit]

From November 10 to 12, 2017, the World Uyghur Congress successfully completed its 6th General Assembly on November 12th in Munich, Germany. The assembly brought together over 100 WUC delegates hailing from 18 countries from November 10-12 to amend the Charter of the organization, discuss the most effective direction of the organization in the coming years, to develop a working strategy to more effectively raise the Uyghur issue in international fora, and elect new leadership. Long-time Uyghur activist and co-founder of the WUC, Dolkun Isa, was elected as WUC President and former Vice-President, Omer Kanat was elected as Chairman of the Executive Committee. In addition, the delegates recognized the unparalleled contributions of former President and long time Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer with an honorary role with the organization. The closing ceremony was centered around a Uyghur cultural event that included a performance by members of the London Uyghur Ensemble, traditional dance and the recitation of poetry. The event allowed members of the Uyghur community from around the world to share in their common culture and heritage as the WUC looks to protect Uyghur identity going forward.[30]

Activities[edit]

The WUC engages in a wide-range of awareness raising and advocacy campaigns about the human rights situation for Uyghurs in China, concentrating on United States Congress in Washington, EU member states, and EU and UN human rights mechanisms. The WUC also works with European Parliament (including the EU Sub-committee on Human Rights), NGOs, UN Treaty Bodies, to which it submits alternative reports as well as UN Special Procedures (Special Rapporteurs, Independent Experts and Working Groups). The WUC also participates actively with the UN Human Rights Council and submits written statements and reports, delivers oral statements to plenary sessions, and organizes side events that focus on Chinese human rights abuses. The WUC also attends the UN Forum on Minority Issues.[9]

Once Voice One Step[edit]

15 March 2018, hundreds of Uyghurs demonstrated in cities around the world to draw attention to the Chinese government’s repression of the Uyghur people in East Turkestan and urge the international community to take action. Demonstrations were held in 15 cities in 14 countries around the world, including: the USA, Germany, Belgium, Norway, Turkey, Sweden, the UK, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, France, Finland and Japan.[31]

Big march in Brussels[edit]

On 27 April 2018, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and its Member organisation the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) held a protest march in Brussels, Belgium to demand that China release one million Uyghurs having been arbitrarily arrested and currently being detained within Chinese ‘re-education camps’. The participants also demanded that China stop the destruction of the Uyghur’s cultural, religious and linguistic identity. This march brought together Uyghurs from many different diaspora groups from around the world and it is estimated that there were around 2,000 participants.[32]

Chinese government perspective[edit]

The government of the People's Republic of China has accused the organisation of fomenting unrest in Xinjiang, and added the WUC to its list of alleged terrorist organisations in December 2003.[10] It has labelled the Congress president as a "terrorist" who "conspired with separatists and religious extremists to plan terror attacks."[12] Kadeer rejected the accusations, saying that "anyone who is unhappy with China's harsh rule is a 'separatist'".[12] During the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, the Chinese government said it had intercepted phone calls of overseas Turkestan groups and groups inside the country. The government has also alleged that Kadeer has close ties with the Dalai Lama, accused by China of inciting unrest in Tibet in 2008, and claimed that WUC president Kadeer said that "something similar should happen in Xinjiang."[33][34]

None of the claims made by the Chinese government, however, have been verified by independent sources. Scholars agree that the WUC does not call for an independent Uyghur or East Turkestan state, but lobby for cultural autonomy, legal rights, equal employment opportunity and similar issues.[35] Many scholars frame China's use of the terrorist label as a means of delegitimizing the work of genuine activists.[36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World Uyghur Congress who we are". uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved April 16, 2004. 
  2. ^ Alingod, Chris. Ethnic Clashes In China Continue As White House Calls For Restraint. AHN. 7 July 2009
  3. ^ "Uighur Militants". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  4. ^ National Endowment for Democracy China (Xinjiang/east Turkistan) 2016.
  5. ^ a b Newly founded World Uyghur Congress calls for peaceful solution in East Turkestan. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. 22 April 2004
  6. ^ Shen (2007), p. 101.
  7. ^ Chung, Chien-peng. (2006). Confronting Terrorism and Other Evils in China: All Quiet on the Western Front? China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly. 4(2), 75—87.
  8. ^ Keung, Nicholas. Fighting for the rights of Uyghurs. Toronto Star. 8 December 2006
  9. ^ a b c d Introducing the World Uyghur Congress. World Uyghur Congress.
  10. ^ a b Mackerras, Colin. 'Pivot of Asia' sees China-Pakistan maneuvers. Asia Times Online. 13 August 2004
  11. ^ China says international extremists backing terrorism in Xinjiang. Channel NewsAsia. 9 January 2007
  12. ^ a b c China equates pro-independence Uighurs with terrorists. Monsters and Critics. 3 April 2008
  13. ^ "China given warning on Xinjiang". BBC News. 30 September 2005. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  14. ^ Clarke, Michael. (2008). China's “War on Terror” in Xinjiang: Human Security and the Causes of Violent Uighur Separatism. Terrorism and Political Violence. 20(2), 271—301.
  15. ^ Foster, Peter; Spencer, Richard. Beijing Olympics: Security stepped up after terror attack kills 16 Chinese policemen. The Daily Telegraph. 4 August 2008
  16. ^ Atakabi & Mehendale (2005), p. 164.
  17. ^ Atakabi & Mehendale (2005), p. 165.
  18. ^ President Bush praises Rebiya Kadeer as a human rights defender. Uyghur American Association. 5 June 2007
  19. ^ Miliband (2007), p. 136.
  20. ^ Strengthening respect for human rights, strengthening INTERPOL. Fair Trials
  21. ^ "About DOLKUN ISA". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 12 November 2017. 
  22. ^ "Strategies of Attrition (IV)". German-Foreign-Policy.com. 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  23. ^ Lawrence, Susan V. "Why China Fears This Uyghur Exile". Transnational Radical Party. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  24. ^ "Troops flood into China region after riots". MSNBC. Associated Press. 2009-07-08. 
  25. ^ "World Uyghur Congress First General Assembly". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 18 April 2004. 
  26. ^ "World Uyghur Congress Second General Assembly". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 18 April 2008. 
  27. ^ "World Uyghur Congress Third General Assembly". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 25 May 2009. 
  28. ^ "World Uyghur Congress Forth General Assembly". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  29. ^ "WORLD UYGHUR CONGRESS 5TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN PARIS, FRANCE". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 13 July 2016. 
  30. ^ "WORLD UYGHUR CONGRESS 6TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN PARIS, FRANCE". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 12 November 2017. 
  31. ^ "ONE VOICE, ONE STEP WORLDWIDE DEMONSTRATIONS". www.uyghurcongress.org. Retrieved 15 March 2018. 
  32. ^ ",000 March for Freedom of the Uyghurs". www.unpo.org. Retrieved 27 April 2018. 
  33. ^ An. Anti-terror expert: World Uyghur Congress behind Xinjiang violence. Xinhua. 7 July 2009
  34. ^ Xuequan, Mu. Police have evidence of World Uyghur Congress masterminding Xinjiang riot. Xinhua. 7 July 2009
  35. ^ The Urumchi Unrest Revisited. The China Beat. 29 July 2009
  36. ^ Is China Making Its Own Terrorism Problem Worse?. Foreign Policy. 9 February 2015

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]