Rafto Prize laureate re-elected as president of Uyghur congress
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) held its 4th General Assembly in Tokyo, Japan, from May 14 to 17, attended by more than 120 Uyghur delegates from 20 countries around the world. During the assembly Uyghur democracy leader and the 2004 Rafto Prize laureate Ms. Rebiya Kadeer was re-elected WUC President.
Sunday, 03 June 2012, by HRH Bergen, Based on Rafto Foundation Information
“I am grateful to the representatives of Uyghur people around the world for placing their trust in me once again. Under my leadership, the World Uyghur Congress will continue to use nonviolent and peaceful means to promote the democratic rights of the Uyghur people”, said Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer.
Ceremony held at Japanese parliament
The Opening Ceremony of the 4th General Assembly was held at the Japanese Parliament in Tokyo in the morning of May 14. Members of the Parliaments of Japan, Turkey and Italy, other foreign dignitaries, and Chinese, Tibetan and human rights activists attended, as well as members of Rafto Foundation. Following the WUC assembly’s closing session Thursday, Uyghurs and Japanese supporters protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Tokyo. During the assembly, representatives discussed strategies for promoting Uyghur human rights internationally and re-elected Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman who fled China in 2005, as president.
“I call on the Chinese government to end its highly repressive and systematic assimilationist policies in East Turkestan”, Kadeer said, using another name for Xinjiang, the region in China’s far northwest home to more than 9 million Uyghurs. After the assembly, Kadeer and other Uyghur representatives paid a visit to the controversial Yasukuni shrine, a spot that has drawn outrage from China for honouring Japan’s World War II criminals.
The meeting in Tokyo, where Uyghur representatives will remain through the weekend for a leadership training seminar, is the WUC’s first in Asia, following previous congresses held in Munich and Washington since 2004. Japan’s relations with Uyghur politics go back to the 1930s, when a delegation led by a prominent general Mahmut Muhiti traveled to Japan seeking help after the collapse of the First East Turkestan Republic as a result of Chinese and Soviet collaboration. The short-lived republic was one of two established in the 1930s and 40s in what is now China’s Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group. According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, some 1,000 Uyghurs live in Japan, where the Japan Uyghur Association was established in 2008. Members of the Uyghur diaspora also live scattered throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia, as well as in larger numbers in Central Asia.
Calling on Chinese government
R. Kadeer said, “Uyghurs are now no longer just struggling for their human rights but for their very existence as a unique and indigenous people”. In her speech, Ms. Kadeer requested that the Japanese Government raise the human rights violations suffered by Uyghurs and called on the Chinese government to stop repression of the basic rights of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Mongols, Han Chinese and all ethnic groups in China, and to embrace democratic reform in the interest of all people in China. 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.
During the opening ceremony, Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer highlighted the severe repression suffered by the Uyghur people under the “strike-hard” government policies in Xinjiang, which have been particularly harsh since the July 5 Urumchi Massacre of 2009, including large-scale round-ups of young men who have not been heard from since they disappeared, and reports of horrific torture of the young people in unacknowledged detention.
The World Uyghur Congress
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is an international organisation that represents the collective interest of the Uyghur people. The main objective of the WUC is to promote democracy, human rights and freedom for the Uyghur people and use peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine their political future.
HRH Bergen, Based on Rafto Foundation Information