Full Text: Press Conference of the Uyghur Canadian Society

The following is the full text of a March 21, 2019 press conference held by the Uyghur Canadian Society on the persecution of Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China.

March 21, 2019

“I am Mehmet Tohti, representing the Uyghur Canadian community.

“Today is the international day of elimination of all forms of discrimination marked by world-wide. Unfortunately we are talking about here the elimination of Uyghur ethnic group in a form of cultural and ethnic genocide by China deploying all means of State powers.

“Over the last two years, the indescribable suffering, tears and cries of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan, called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by China, has grabbed international attention in shock and disbelief.

“Now we know that more than 3 million Uyghurs are being held in Concentration camps with barbed wires and heavy surveillance, under daily humiliation and physical and mental torture, with numerous deaths reported.

“China’s persecution of the Uyghurs has been an issue of public importance in Canada since 2006, when Canadian Citizen Huseyin Jelil was abducted by the Chinese government in Uzbekistan and sentenced to life in prison on bogus charges following a secret trial.

“Now tens of thousands of Uyghur Canadians’ direct and extended family members are being held by the Chinese government in concentration camps. Our communication with our family members has been cut off completely for 2 years and we don’t even know whether or not our parents, brothers, sisters, relatives are alive or dead. We cannot make phone calls to our family members, we cannot send text messages or exchange any means of communication with them in fear of Chinese reprisal. In fact no single Uyghur Canadian family members left untouched inside and outside of China.

“Secretary of State Pompeo said on March 14, 2019, that Chinese persecution of the Uyghurs has reached a level that has not been seen since the 1930s, referring to the Nazi Holocaust.

“While defending the Chinese government’s policy of holding millions of Uyghurs in concentration camps, China’s Ambassador to USA, Mr. Cui Tian Kai said on November 2018, that China is trying to turn Uyghurs into “normal people”.

“China has been carrying out a policy of State sponsored genocide, summarized as “Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins,” according to a Chinese government document uncovered by Agence France-Presse.

“This is nothing but a declaration of genocidal intent by the Chinese state.

“As part of the ongoing brutal campaign, China has detained well over 380 Uyghur scholars, Doctors, Professors, writers as well as singers, religious figures, stand-up Comedians, public speakers, journalists and teachers. Number is growing everyday.

“The Uyghur language and more than 2000 years old Uyghur literatures, books, civilization have been banned, all forms of decent religious practices are outlawed, mosques, churches and holy books have been destroyed. Instead, Uyghurs are been forced to worship the communist party and President Xi Jinping.

“According to a Canadian Parliamentary subcommittee report released on November 20, 2018, the ancestral homeland of Uyghurs has become an open air prison for Uyghurs.

“Despite the fact that this human tragedy is unfolding in plain sight of the international community, Canada has yet to issue an official public statement to condemn it.

“Serious warnings by China experts such as Jonathan Manthorpe and Prof. Charles Burton to change course on our ongoing China policy are being largely ignored and the old rhetoric of fear, worry and defensiveness continues to be the dominant factor in our policy making. By repeating the same old policy we are acting exactly the way the communist Chinese government wants us to act.

“Excruciating details of mass arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, torture, rape, and compulsory worship of President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party must no longer be ignored.

“Silence and inaction in the face of atrocity is a form of complicity.

“We urge our government to use its all power to stand up against China and explicitly oppose Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs.

“We urge our government to openly condemn China’s 21st century concentration camps, and ask the Chinese government to close those camps and release those millions of Uyghurs who are being held immediately.

“Canada should join the UN and other western democracies to send an independent fact finding mission to the region and asses the tragic situation of the Uyghurs in concentration camps.

“Canada should work with the United States of America and other allies to sanction those Chinese officials who are responsible for this heinous crime against humanity by invoking Global Magnetisky Act.

“Canada should stand up for defending and protecting the rights of Uyghur Canadians right here and act on their behalf to seek answers from the Chinese government about the situation of their direct and extended relatives and their whereabouts.

“Canada should help with the resettlement of those Uyghurs made stateless by China, because they have been denied passport renewal, passport extension and passport issuance. There are thousands of Uyghur babies born outside of China living with Stateless status in Turkey and elsewhere because they have been denied Chinese passports.

“Concentration camps with intended ethnic and cultural genocide in 21st century is China’s shame, indeed. However, inaction or verbal reaction with very thin critic is ours. This is our shame that we will live by in the dark chapter of history that is in the making right now.”

Mehmet Tohti is prominent Uyghur Canadian activist and government coordinator of Uyghur Canadian Society.