France calls to similar action. Ms. Tursunay Ziyawudun flees safely from a detention camp. Two awards honor the Uyghur cause.
by Marco Respinti
In spite of the CCP propaganda, which tries to throw mud in the face of all who protest its brutal repression of religious liberty, human rights, and ethnic minorities, the so-called transformation through education camps of Xinjiang (that local inhabitants prefer to call East Turkestan) are not, as the regime affirms, “vocational training schools”. They are detention facilities, where inmates are incarcerated, tortured, and murdered.
The most recent evidence of this truth is the safe arrival in the United States of Ms. Tursunay Ziyawudun, one of three millions inmates (according to the most recent statistics) that languish in sorrow in that gigantic repression system, and one of the few to have escaped to inform the world. Released from a camp in December 2018, thanks to the fact that her husband is a Kazakh national, she went to Kazakhstan, but in February 2020 their house, located near Almaty, “was set on fire in suspicious circumstances, after she went public with her story”, as a Uyghur Human Rights Project press release explains, and the couple was forced to flee the country.
While this indirectly confirms the influence of the CCP on the Kazakh government, which threatens even Kazakh citizens and that Bitter Winter has constantly denounced, the testimony that Ms. Ziyawudun will surely provide to human rights NGOs and Western governments willing to indict Chinese policies is invaluable.
Today, at least two such Western governments exist. One is United States, the other is France. The first has repeatedly denounced China, be it in connection with the case of Xinjiang or Tibet. For France, however, what is happening is something new.
All happened on September 22, 2020, a landmark day for Uyghurs, a people harshly persecuted by the CCP along with other Turkic Muslim minorities (including ethnic Kazakhs) and other Chinese citizens of different ethnic origins and religious persuasions. In fact, what the Chinese communist regime is waging on in that region is a true genocide, either of a “cultural” brand or in its classic form. And similar genocidal policies are pursued by the CCP in Tibet and Inner Mongolia (which locals inhabitants prefer to call Southern Mongolia).
On September 22, the US House of Representatives passed, 406 to 3, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, sponsored by Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), now serving as the chairperson of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, one of the most outspoken official American agencies when it comes to confront China.
To become law, the proposed bill needs now to pass the vote of the Senate. This may become one of the hot issues of the forthcoming American election on November 3. In fact, on that day, not only the federal president and vice president will be elected, but also the whole House of Representatives and one third of the Senate. Indeed, China is the major foreign policy issue in the elections.
If signed into law, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act will prevent American companies to cooperate with the forced labor system that the CCP enacts and maintains in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (as its official name goes), putting an end to the shame of what is nothing less than modern slavery. Under that law, manufacturing and retailing companies would need to stop any connection to forced labor in their supply chains, and refrain from any involvement in the region’s economic system.
On the same day, French president Emmanuel Macron called for an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations to visit Xinjiang and ascertain the truth. “Fundamental rights, said the French President, are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference.” “These are the principles of our organization, enshrined in texts that the member states of the United Nations have freely consented to sign and to respect.” In a letter to French MP Mr. Aurélien Taché, President Macron had already deemed the CCP’s repression against the Uyghurs “unacceptable” on September 7.
The importance of these words can be hardly underestimated. First, because the French President has been previously quite silent on human rights when meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, and has signed several commercial agreements with China. Secondly, because Macron’s statement counters the idea, advanced by China and other non-democratic regimes, that human rights are a “Western idea,” whose respect could not be imposed on non-Western countries. This is an idea the CCP is trying to promote around the world, recruiting fellow travelers and allies also in Western democratic countries.
Two other relevant facts concerning the Uyghur cause should be mentioned here. First, Mr. Nury Turkel, co-founder in 2003 and chairman since 2016 of the Board of Directors of the Uyghur Human Rights Project in Washington, D.C., a sincere friend of Bitter Winter who was appointed as the first Uyghur member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in May 2020, has been named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine.
Secondly, an international jury awarded the 2020 Prix Italia, in the TV Documentary category, to China Undercover, the film by well-known British director and producer Mr. Robin Barnwell that documents the tragedy of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in XUAR, also using some Bitter Winter’s footage. It is a film Bitter Winter has earnestly recommended to its readers. Mr. Barnwell’s documentary, the motivation of the prize says, “boldly reveals a human laboratory where Chinese technology companies have created the world’s most invasive surveillance state,” which is “supported by new 5G technologies exported around the world and is a threat to human freedom and liberal democracy at large. This is why the Jury found the message of this film so important.”