Situation of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang

Location: ONLINE

Wednesday 12 May 2021

10:00-11:30 AM (EDT)/16:00-17:30 (CET)

Watch live on UN WebTV

The international community has grown increasingly concerned about the human rights  situation in Xinjiang, China. In June 2020, 50 UN Special Procedures mandate holders jointly  raised the alarm about Xinjiang and called on the Government of the People’s Republic of  China to respect human rights in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China. In October 2020, a cross regional group of 39 countries expressed grave concern about the existence of a large  network of “political re-education” camps in Xinjiang, where credible reports indicate that more than a million people have been arbitrarily detained. They spoke of severe restrictions on the freedoms of religion or belief, movement, association and expression. They also  voiced grave concern about widespread surveillance, which disproportionately targets  Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities, and continued reports of State-sponsored forced labor and forced birth control, including sterilisation. 

China has repeatedly voiced a willingness to grant access to the UN to assess the human  rights situation in Xinjiang. Member States and civil society organisations have called for immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for the UN and other independent observers, including relevant Special Procedures mandate holders. 

This high-level event has the goal of bringing together UN officials, civil society representatives, academics, journalists, as well as representatives of affected communities in order to exchange information on and raise awareness about the human rights situation  in Xinjiang. Participants will discuss how the UN system, member States and civil society can support and advocate for the human rights of members of ethnic Turkic communities in  Xinjiang.  

The event, co-sponsored by UN Member States and civil society organisations and moderated by Demetri Sevastopolu (Financial Times), will feature:

  • Jewher Ilham, author and human rights activist
  • H.E. Barbara Woodward, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the UN
  • H.E. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the UN
  • H.E. Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the UN
  • Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
  • Dr. Agnès Callamard, Secretary General, Amnesty International
  • Dr. Eva Pils, Professor of Law, King's College London
  • Dr. Fernand de Varennes, UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
  • Jewher Ilham, author and human rights activist
  • Dolkun Isa, President, World Uyghur Congress

There will be an opportunity for Q&A and interventions from Member States at the end. The event will be held virtually; it can be viewed live on UN WebTV.

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