LfUR Autumn Newsletter 2020

From wig makers to telephone handset makers, 5G providers, world renowned sports suppliers and even Disney, few companies it seems have escaped the sordid net of complicity with Beijing's egregious human rights abuses meted out to the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang, North West China.







Since July the noose of proof has been ever tightening around the CCP with evidence of forced labour, compulsory sterilisation and widespread abuse, likened recently to life for the Jews under the Nazi Regime. The seizure of tons of human Uyghur hair from internment camps in Southern Xinjiang, renewed concern for Uyghur detainees during a further Covid emergency in Xinjiang, the link between international clothing brands and forced Uyghur labour and more recently the spectre of genocide and crimes against humanity with the launch of a tribunal in London, are all signs that the world is waking up to the systematic abuses against the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang Province by the Communist Party of China.

July started with the seizure in the US of 13 tons of human hair worth over $800,000, originating from Xinjiang, which only served to highlight once again the grisly spectre of a holocaust looming over Xinjiang.





On July 20th, the US expanded its blacklist by eleven, of Chinese companies linked to human rights abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, https://supchina.com/2020/07/21/xinjiang-cotton-and-selfie-cameras-u-s-blacklists-chinese-companies-that-use-forced-uyghur-labor/ and July 22nd saw a high level briefing paper published by The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) highlighting the responsibility of governments under international law to address the ill-treatment, repression and abuse of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims by China.





On July 23rd more than 190 organisations came together to demand an end to garments made by forced labor in China, seeking formal commitments from clothing brands to cut all ties with suppliers implicated in Uighur forced labor and to end all sourcing from the Xinjiang region of China in the next twelve months.







July 28th saw Xinjiang closed to the outside world for forty days amid a second Covid wave which down the province for more than 40 days and sparked fears again for prisoners in the camps.





UK parliamentarians were urged in late July by MP's Yasmin Qureshi and Alistair Carmichael to face up to Uyghur atrocities.

https://www.politicshome.com/thehouse/article/britain-cannot-continue-to-shy-away-from-the-atrocities-inflicted-on-chinas-uighur-population-76190 amid protests from China on July 30th over "biased" western reporting https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-chinas-ambassador-to-the-uk-lashes-out-at-western-reporting-on/and accusations of Britain's "meddling" in its internal affairs over Hong Kong.




Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK. Recently in a spat with the UK's TV presenter Andrew Marr over blindfolded and shackled prisoner moving in Xinjiang.

Petition Provokes UK Debate
Following a petition launched in July which attracted almost 150,000 signatures from around the world, demanding the UK impose sanctions on China, the matter was eventually debated in Parliament on October 12th. 

Pressure had been mounting in the meantime with a cross-party letter to the Chinese ambassador in London, signed by 130 MPs and peers, accusing Beijing of a “systematic and calculated programme of ethnic cleansing” against the country’s Uighur Muslim minority. Signatories including the newly-elected Lib Dem leader, Tom Tugendhat, the influential chairman of the Commons’ foreign affairs select committee, and Lord Dannatt, the former head of Britain’s armed forces, 


During the debate over sanctions, the UK government expressed abhorrence at China's human rights record in Xinjiang but fell short of agreeing to impose concrete penalties in the shape of Magnitsky sanctions.


Further significant UK government enquiries launched

September 16th saw the launch of a Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry chaired by Tom Tugendhat MP, into how the UK government can prevent UK companies from benefiting from forced labour in Xinjiang, support members of the Uyghur diaspora community, and strengthen the Government’s, and particularly the FCDO’s, atrocity prevention mechanisms. (https://committees.parliament.uk/work/564/xinjiang-detention-camps/news/119049/committee-launches-new-inquiry-on-xinjiang-detention-camps/)

Whilst in a parallel thrust, a further committee, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee announced on September 18th an evidence hearing, likely to take place in November, which will explore the extent to which businesses in the UK are exploiting the forced labour of Uyghur in the Xinjiang region of China.


                              BEIJING IS HELD TO ACCOUNT

July 31st saw the US sanction the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (Bingtuan) and two of its officials for their connection to serious human rights abuses in Xinjiang. "We call upon the world to join us in condemning the CCP's heinous abuse of the human rights of its own citizens," tweeted Secretary Mike Pompeo.



Escalation of tensions over Xinjiang between Beijing and the US was well documented on August 1st, by Forbes detailing the background to new evidence emerging of atrocities concerning the Uyghurs.


August 4th 2020 saw the human rights group Investors for Human Rights, issue guidance for brands connected to the Uyghur region.

https://investorsforhumanrights.org/news/new-investor-guidance-cites-human-rights-risks-brands-relationships-connected-uyghur-region and on August 18th the group urged investors to pull their money out of companies that have links with China’s ongoing campaign of detention and forced labor in the northwestern region of Xinjiang


Calls were also renewed in the States to expedite the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law, to build on the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act that was passed in May this year.


The bill requires corporations that manufacture products in Xinjiang to prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that no forced labor was used in their creation before the products may be imported to the United States.



Uyghurs gather outside the White House to urge the US to end trade deals with China (July 14th 2020. Politico)

The government went ahead with the legislation despite the far-reaching impact it will have on US retailers, clothes makers and food producers. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54067492

This was followed by Sept. 22nd's vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to ban imports from Xinjiang in an effort to stop forced labor from workers belonging to the Muslim minority. In a 406-3 vote, the House overwhelmingly passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would prohibit “certain imports from Xinjiang.”

The proposed bill follows the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which was signed into law in June, (https://www.icij.org/investigations/china-cables/trump-signs-uighur-sanctions-bill-amid-bolton-claims-provoking-china-fury/) authorising sanctions against Chinese officials who are responsible for human rights violations against Uyghurs

                   CHINA LASHES OUT AT "FAKE NEWS"

On August 8th, Beijing lashed out at the BBC for its "farfetched, false and deceitful" reporting on Xinjiang,


and launched a character assassination of Adrian Zenz, the foremost expert and researcher on Internment and enforced sterilisation in the province.https://www.xjnu.edu.cn/2020/0808/c11505a109064/page.htmhttps://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1197187.shtml



Scholar Adrian Zenz (second from right) whose meticulous evidence gathering has provided conclusive proof of the atrocities taking place against the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang Province. He has been blacked as a 'swindler in academic disguise' by the CCP.


On August 10th, Newsweek raised the spectre of a possible genocide unfolding in Xinjiang, https://www.newsweek.com/we-face-specter-genocide-xinjiang-opinion-1524133 , joining Jewish World Watch in the same vein https://www.justsecurity.org/72074/how-china-is-violating-human-rights-treaties-and-its-own-constitution-in-xinjiang/?mc_cid=26881084b7&mc_eid=2d973a3471 and most recently President Trump who is weighing formally labeling China’s brutal repression of ethnic Muslim minority Uighurs a “genocide."




Drone footage of blindfolded, shackled prisoners being transferred en masse.



Sir Geoffrey Nice QC 


Peoples' Tribunal on Genocide

September 3rd heralded the launch of a People's Tribunal in London,  which has been billed as the most thorough investigation ever of CCP crimes in Xinjiang. https://apnews.com/1596ae9f225a0c93fb07ac4376bdc924

The hearings to be presided over by a panel chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, one of the Milosevic trial prosecutors in the Hague, will set out to determine whether the CCP is guilty of genocide, or at the very least, crimes against humanity in its dealings with the Uyghurs.


August 14th saw Lawyers for Uyghur Rights, spearheaded by London-based rights lawyer Michael Polak, submit a complaint to the  IOC’s Ethics Commission on behalf of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, urging the committee to reconsider holding the Winter  Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022. The group claims proof of crimes against humanity taking place in the XUAR, including arbitrary detention in internment camps, torture, repressive security and surveillance, and forced labor and slavery. https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/olympics-08142020131125.html


China's Logo for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics 2020 .


Other international alliances have since been forming in attempts to stem the tide of China's relentless disdain for world opinion. In September, a coalition of 160 human rights groups delivered a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urging it to revoke Beijing’s hosting of the Winter Olympic Games. IPAC, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, (an international cross-party group of legislators working towards reform on how democratic countries approach China) headed by UK parliamentarian Sir Iain Duncan Smith, is also campaigning to see the sporting event moved. (https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/global-push-to-strip-beijing-of-winter-olympics-20200920-p55xen.html)


A Washington Post editorial in September, (https://www.washingtonpost.com/gdpr-consent/?next_url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.washingtonpost.com%2fopinions%2fglobal-opinions%2fnew-evidence-of-chinas-concentration-camps-shows-its-hardening-resolve-to-wipe-out-the-uighurs%2f2020%2f09%2f03%2faeeb71b4-ebb2-11ea-99a1-71343d03bc29_story.html), suggested that China should be stripped of the Winter Olympics. "The world must ask whether China, slowly strangling an entire people, has the moral standing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics,” it said. “We think not." 


As the month neared its close, groundbreaking revelations of a network of camps more extensive and permanent than has hitherto been conceived was unveiled.





In the most extensive investigation of China’s internment camp system ever undertaken using publicly available satellite images, coupled with dozens of interviews with former detainees, BuzzFeed News identified more than 260 structures built since 2017 and bearing the hallmarks of fortified detention compounds. China has secretly built scores of massive new prison and internment camps in the past three years, dramatically escalating its campaign against Muslim minorities even as it publicly claimed the detainees had all been set free



September 9th saw two major attempts to stand up to Beijing in its treatment of Uyghurs. The first was a cross-party letter to the Chinese ambassador in London, signed by 130 MPs and peers, accusing Beijing of a “systematic and calculated programme of ethnic cleansing” against the country’s Uighur Muslim minority. Signatories including the newly-elected Lib Dem leader, Tom Tugendhat, the influential chairman of the Commons’ foreign affairs select committee, and Lord Dannatt, the former head of Britain’s armed forces, 


The second was a ratcheting up of pressure from the Trump administration in making the decision to block key exports from Xinjiang of cotton and tomato products, because of alleged links with forced labour.


The government went ahead with the legislation despite the far-reaching impact it will have on US retailers, clothes makers and food producers.




Calls to boycott Disney's latest blockbuster Mulan are gathering momentum with the discovery that segments of the movie were not only filmed in Turpan where several internment camps were at the same time forcibly detaining thousands of Uyghurs, but that the film's credits thanked the very same Public Security Bureau responsible for the illegal detentions.  




Disney credits Turpan's official bureaus, including the key police department, for help in the making of the movie.


Fashion World Strikes Back

World fashion week in September kicked off with protests around the world against Beijing's complicity in forced labour.




United Nations Human Rights Council

This comes in the wake of another pivotal gathering of the UN Human Rights Council recently where Germany on behalf of 39 countries made a statement (https://new-york-un.diplo.de/un-en/news-corner/201006-heusgen-china/2402648) calling out Beijing's treatment of Uyghurs and demanding "unfettered access" to the Xinjiang region, based on "increasing numbers of reports of gross human rights violations."

Beijing's counter attack was vicious having primed a total of 70 countries to back them up. Pakistan had rallied 55 countries in support of China's actions in Hong Kong, Cuba on behalf of 45 countries to support efforts in Xinjiang, (http://chnun.chinamission.org.cn/eng/hyyfy/t1822121.htm) and Kuwait making a joint statement on behalf of three Gulf States.

China described attempts to "smear its human rights record," as doomed to failure. They were "despicable", "poisonous" and "standing on the wrong side of history," which echo strongly Xi Jinping's conviction voiced recently that his policies on Xinjiang are successful and he was not going to back down. https://supchina.com/2020/09/28/chinas-xinjiang-policy-is-completely-correct-xi-jinping-says/

Personal Stories

And last but not least, two personal stories shock and bring home the human cost of the Uyghur tragedy to a world that is just beginning to wake up to the brutal reality of life in North West China.

First the story of Uyghur model, Merdan Ghappar, who somehow managed to get access to his phone and record spoken and video footage of life inside an internment camp. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-53650246



He records his own incarceration and also describes conditions of horrifying neglect and cruelty, including overcrowding at the height of the pandemic, beatings, and the torture of elderly prisoners. Both he and the aunt to whom he sent the messages have since disappeared.

And finally, after several months of traumatised silence after arriving in Europe late last year, Qelbinur Sedik, a former camp teacher tells her own story in graphic detail. https://thediplomat.com/2020/08/confessions-of-a-xinjiang-camp-teacher/, of torture, systematised rape, death and forced sterilisation.

QELBINUR'S STORY- Qelbinur Sidiq, a former camp teacher, now in exile in Europe


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