World Uyghur Congress
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) (Uyghur: دۇنيا ئۇيغۇر قۇرۇلتىيى, ULY: Dunya Uyghur Qurultiyi; Chinese: 世界维吾尔代表大会; pinyin: Shìjiè Wéiwúěr Dàibiǎo Dàhuì) is an international organisation of exiled Uyghur groups that aspires to "represent the collective interest of the Uyghur people" both inside and outside of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region 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. The Congress is funded in part by the National Endowment for Democracy or NED of US.
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). Rebiya Kadeer is the current president, elected in 2006. Dolkun Isa is current General Secretary, reelected in 2006. A prominent businesswoman and political activist, Kadeer has been in exile in the United States since 2005 after six years' imprisonment in China for "leaking state secrets".
The Chinese government has designated the WUC and its affiliate groups as a terrorist organisation, who it says have attempted to form a legitimate cover for their "illegal motives" to separate China.
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 and the East Turkestan National Congress. 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. The Congress has convened three assemblies since its inception—in 2004, 2006, and 2009. 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. There are no known links between the WUC and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.
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. 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, whose treatment of Uyghurs, it alleges, risk turning the region into a "time bomb". 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." The Congress has also said China is exaggerating the threat from terrorists in order to justify repression in the region.
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. Some newspapers in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan reprint articles from the websites in Uyghur and Russian.
As the Congress is made up of a number of Uyghur groups internationally, its leaders are based in a number of countries.
|Honorary Chairman||M. Riza Bekin (deceased)||Turkey|
|Chief Advisor||Erkin Alptekin||Germany|
|Vice President||Seyit Tumturk
|Secretary General||Dolkun Isa||Germany|
|Deputy Secretary General||Erkin Emet
The Congress also maintains representatives in Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Sweden and the United Kingdom. President Kadeer met former United States President George Bush in June 2007, and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in October the same year. The secretary General Dolkun Isa is on the Red Notice List of International Criminal Police Organization.
The organisation is funded in part by the National Endowment for Democracy or NED, which gives the WUC $215,000 annually for "human rights research and advocacy projects". The National Endowment for Democracy is a U.S. non-profit organization founded in 1983 to promote democracy by providing cash grants funded primarily through an annual allocation from the U.S. Congress.
Chinese government perspective
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. It has labelled the Congress president as a "terrorist" who "conspired with separatists and religious extremists to plan terror attacks." Kadeer rejected the accusations, saying that "anyone who is unhappy with China's harsh rule is a 'separatist'". 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." The government newspaper, the People's Daily, attacked the WUC, saying that it was funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, whose main sponsor was the U.S. Congress.
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- World Uyghur Congress
- Uyghur American Association
- East Turkestan National Congress (No longer updated)
- Alim Seitoff, WUC's vice president, interviewed on PBS' News Hour