Shocking reports from Xinjiang before visit

Shocking reports from Xinjiang before the Parliament visit

Activists in Norway despair after shocking reports that one million Uighurs are kept in secret camps inXinjiang. They ask Norwegian politicians to bring the matter up with China.

The UN Racial Discrimination Committee (CERD) recently stated in a hearing that it has received «numerous and credible» reports that one million Uighurs and other Muslims and minority groups are held in detention camps in the Xinjiang Province of China - writes

This week a high ranking delegation from the Parliament’s Foreign and Defense Committee travel to China. On the way to China they bring along a prayer from Adiljan Abdurihim of the Norwegian Uighur Committee:

– Both public and diplomatic pressure can be an effective way of demanding changes from China. Therefore, we ask both the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to make a clear stand on the situation in Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang), in line with the core values of Norwegian foreign policy, he says to NTB.

Abdurihim shows that human rights and democracy are always highlighted as key values and goals for Norwegian foreign policy.

Must inform

For historical and political reasons, the Uighurs themselves refer to Xinjiang Province as Eastern Turkestan, something that does not go well with Chinese authorities.

Abdurihim points out that the Uighurs for decades has been subject to abuse and pressure against their culture, language and religion in China. He thinks Norway is wrong in adopting a «neutral position» in questions about people’s rights in China.

– It’s wrong to assume a neutral position. In terms of human rights in China, Beijing is still concerned about its international status. It is very important that the Norwegian authorities raise concerns about over one million Uighurs held in political indoctrination camps, for no legal reason, he says.

Labour leader Jonas Gahr Støre, the parliamentarians Hans Andreas Limi (Progress Party) and Trond Helleland (Conservatives) together with Socialist leader Audun Lysbakken participate on the committee trip.

Concrete questions

The Norwegian Uighur Committee challenges the Foreign Affairs Committee, which is in China from September 3rd through 6th, to ask the following questions during the visit:

Can Chinese authorities provide information on the reasons why people are sent to the camps?

What rights, such as that of a lawyer, have those who are sent there in order to protect themselves?

What is the situation for those who are held in the camps?

– Norway must also lift the case to prominent Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti, who has been wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment for trying to build dialogue or a bridge between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese, says Abdurihim.

Denies camps

CERD member Gay McDougall from the United States showed during the UN hearing that China has transformed the province into «something similar to a massive detention camp». China denies those charges.

– The claim that 1 million Uighurs are detained in re-education centres, is completely false, says the Chinese delegate Hu Lianhe.

In connection with a congressional hearing in the United States about Xinjiang, Republican Marco Rubio described the situation in the province as «one of the cruellest things happening in the world today».

– Where have all the people gone to? Financial Times asked recently in an extensive article about the situation.

«Strengthening relations»

The Norwegian Parliament will use the visit to strengthen relations with the Chinese People’s Congress, which also is preparing the program for the trip.

Norway’s relationship with China came to a standstill after Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. The relations were normalized after the two countries agreed on a political declaration in which Norway undertook to respect China’s «core interests».

– Last month’s reports on the situation of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang raise concerns, wrote Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservatives), recently in a letter to the Norwegian Parliament.

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