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Uyghur News Recap: Jan. 20 – 27, 2023

FILE – An ethnic Uyghur girl holds an East Turkestan flag during a protest against China in Istanbul, Turkey, Aug. 31, 2022. This month marks two years since the U.S. formally recognized China’s mistreatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim populations in Xinjiang as genocide.

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A summary of Uyghur-related news around the world

A Kazakh woman in Xinjiang asks journalists to publicize her case

A female Kazakh dissident who was released from a Chinese internment camp to her home in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, talked to journalists and activists in the United States, asking them to publicize her plea to leave China. After Zhanargul Zhumatai’s words “Help Me, I Just Want to Leave China” were publicized in international media, Chinese authorities agreed to issue her a passport to go to Kazakhstan where authorities agreed to accept her. But her fate is still unknown.

Xinjiang Victims Database: repression of Uyghurs in China unchanged

Gene Bunin, founder of Xinjiang Victims Database, which documents victims of China’s repressive policies in Xinjiang, said protests that started last November in Urumqi and later spread to other cities in China were unlikely to have been in solidarity with Uyghurs and more likely a result of frustration with China’s zero-COVID policy.

Uyghur engineer urges China to release his 19-year-old sister from detention

Kewser Wayit, a U.S.-based Uyghur engineer, calls on the Chinese government to release his 19-year-old sister who was detained by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang for posting a video about “white paper” protests in China.

Uyghurs in Washington urge international community to recognize Xinjiang as ‘occupied’

January 19 marks two years since the U.S. officially recognized China’s mistreatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim populations in Xinjiang as genocide. Commemorating the second anniversary of the official Uyghur genocide designation by the U.S., two Washington-based pro-independence Uyghur organizations, East Turkistan Government in Exile and East Turkistan National Movement, held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington and released a white paper countering China’s claims that Xinjiang was a part of China since ancient times.

At Thursday’s event, the groups released a 12-page brief that argued achieving East Turkistan’s independence from China will be necessary to end genocide in the region and ensure the fundamental freedoms, human rights, and survival of the Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and other ethnically Turkic peoples.

New in brief

Uyghur couple with Chinese citizenship face threat of deportation from Malta

On January 16, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Republic of Malta to halt a planned deportation of a Uyghur couple with Chinese citizenship to China after two human rights organizations, the Malta-based Aditus Foundation and the Spanish human rights group, Safeguard Defenders, on January 13 filed a case at the European Court of Human Rights against the Maltese immigration authorities, condemning their ‘rejection of the two Uyghurs’ appeal for humanitarian protection.

According to the Aditus Foundation, the Uyghurs came to Malta in 2016 and spent years living in hiding in the Mediterranean island state when authorities first rejected their application for asylum in 2017. In 2018, Malta issued orders to remove them from the country.

Quote of note

“Trying to reason logically: Far worse things have happened in Xinjiang over the past five years, without any protests following, so it’s unlikely that these protests were in solidarity and more likely that they were a result of pent-up frustration with the ‘zero-COVID’ policy. The fact that the protests died out so quickly, while the fundamental issues in Xinjiang remain, would also push me to conclude that Uyghur/Xinjiang solidarity was not a key element here, though there are certainly pockets of the Han population that are unhappy with the Xinjiang policies and would certainly speak out against them if it were safe to do so.”

– Gene Bunin, founder of Xinjiang Victims Database.