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Uyghur News Recap: Nov. 24 - Dec. 8, 2023

FILE - Arfiya Eri of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party is pictured during an interview with AFP in Tokyo, June 15, 2022. She became the first person of Uyghur heritage elected to Japan's Parliament and has said she'll seek a second term.
FILE - Arfiya Eri of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party is pictured during an interview with AFP in Tokyo, June 15, 2022. She became the first person of Uyghur heritage elected to Japan's Parliament and has said she'll seek a second term.

Uyghur Japanese Lawmaker Discusses Japan's Stance on China's Treatment of Uyghurs

In a recent interview with Radio Free Asia, Arfiya Eri, the first Uyghur candidate elected to Japan's Parliament, provided insights into Japan's position on China's treatment of Uyghurs. Discussing the Parliament's reluctance to acknowledge the Uyghur genocide, Eri cited a perceived lack of evidence and a shortage of experts on the matter. Eri concluded the interview by outlining her plans to secure a second term as a Japanese lawmaker.

Shein IPO Sparks Concerns Over Alleged Uyghur Forced Labor in Supply Chain

Moves by Chinese online fashion retailer Shein to launch an initial public offering prompted renewed scrutiny about its alleged use of Uyghur forced labor in China as part of its supply chain. U.S. lawmakers again called on the company to prove that it is not using forced labor to make its clothes. Shein confidentially filed to go public in late November and could launch its shares as soon as 2024.

Concerns Rise Over British Army's Use of Solar Panels Linked to Alleged Uyghur Forced Labor

The British army's use of solar panels from companies accused of involvement in forced labor in China's Xinjiang region — namely, JA Solar, Trina and Qcells — has sparked concerns. Although the companies have provided assurances that they are not using forced labor, a report from Sheffield Hallam University said the businesses had a "very high" exposure to production in Xinjiang.

Canadian Tour in Xinjiang Led by Sanctioned XPCC Draws Criticism

Twenty Canadians participated in a 10-day trip to Xinjiang, organized by the sanctioned Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), which faces accusations from Canada of "gross and systematic human rights violations." The XPCC, in collaboration with China's United Front Work Department, guided the tour, encouraging the young Canadians to "tell the true, beautiful and colorful stories of Xinjiang and the Xinjiang Corps." Despite widespread criticism of China's treatment of Uyghurs, the trip underscores Beijing's efforts to shape global perception and reshape the narrative around Xinjiang. Critics argue that the initiative by the United Front aims to cultivate future pro-Chinese Communist Party supporters.

Kazakh Citizen Jailed in China for Espionage Seeks Transfer to Kazakhstan

Askar Azatbek, a Kazakh citizen sentenced to 20 years in China for "divulging state secrets," is seeking a transfer to Kazakhstan. Arrested in 2017, Azatbek was accused of espionage for guiding a consular officer to dam construction sites in Xinjiang. His association with Daniyar Serikbayev, who worked at Kazakhstan's consulate in Urumqui and for Kazakhstan’s National Security Commission, led to the charges. Azatbek is seeking a transfer because of his Kazakh citizenship. Kazakh embassy officials visited Azatbek in Gansu province, and the Kazakhstan government maintains that he is innocent.

Kazakh Protesters Blocked on 1,000th Day of Rallies Against China's Xinjiang Policies

In Almaty, Kazakhstan, police blocked five Kazakh individuals from approaching the Chinese Consulate as they sought the release of their relatives imprisoned in reeducation camps in Xinjiang. The demonstrators, marking the 1,000th day of their rallies, are protesting China's alleged genocidal policies against ethnic Kazakhs, Uyghurs Kyrgyz and other Indigenous groups in the region. China denies abuses against minorities in Xinjiang.

China Responds to Appeals for Uyghur Detainee's Release, Offers Few Details

Three months after Turkey-based Uyghur Nefise Oghuz's videos advocating for her uncle Alim Abdukerim's release from arbitrary detention in China, the Chinese government responded, but gave little information. Abdukerim was arrested in 2017 and is serving a prison term surpassing 10 years, but the Chinese government would not disclose the charges. Oghuz remains skeptical that more information will be forthcoming, emphasizing the lack of transparency in China's handling of Uyghur arrests.

Volkswagen Investors Demand Ongoing Audits in China After Xinjiang Site Audit

Volkswagen investors Union Investment and Deka Investment are calling for regular checks on the carmaker's Chinese operations to ensure compliance with human rights laws, following an audit of its Xinjiang site that found no forced Uyghur labor. Despite the stock's 3.4% rise, the Association of Critical Shareholders raised concerns, emphasizing that the audit prompted more questions than answers. While viewing the audit as a positive step, Union Investment stressed the necessity of ongoing audits and the establishment of a complaints management system.

UN Rights Chief Faces Criticism for Silence on China’s Uyghur Treatment

On the 75th anniversary of the U.N. genocide convention, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk faced criticism for not addressing the alleged Uyghur genocide in China's Xinjiang region. Activists and scholars deemed his statement "useless" and "hypocritical," emphasizing the urgent need for concrete actions against the well-documented Uyghur genocide, involving the detention of at least 1.8 million Uyghurs in camps since 2017. The genocide is recognized by Washington but denied by Beijing.

Report Exposes Uyghur Forced Labor in EU Clothing Markets

A report revealed that clothing linked to Uyghur forced labor is entering the EU market, implicating major brands like H&M and Zara. The study, by Uyghur Rights Monitor, Sheffield Hallam University and the Uyghur Center for Democracy and Human Rights, focused on Chinese companies tied to Xinjiang, where widespread human rights abuses have been documented. While the U.S. has legislation against goods produced in Xinjiang, the EU lacks a comparable stance, prompting calls for regulations. The report emphasized the importance of considering state-sponsored labor transfers as a red flag when evaluating companies in mainland China.

Canada Urged to Sanction Chinese Seafood Firms Linked to Uyghur Forced Labor

Two human rights groups are urging the Canadian government to impose sanctions on seven Chinese business entities involved in the seafood industry, citing evidence of "gross violations" of human rights against Uyghur workers. The submission, based on the Outlaw Ocean Project's investigation, recommends using sanctions to send a message to both Chinese companies and Canadian importers that products made using Uyghur forced labor will not be allowed in the Canadian market.

US Treasury Sanctions Chinese Officials Over Rights Abuses in Xinjiang

The U.S. Treasury has imposed sanctions on two Chinese officials, Gao Qi and Hu Lianhe, for their involvement in human rights abuses against the Uyghur population and ethnic Kazakh and Kyrgyz communities in Xinjiang.

News in brief

In Guangdong province, China, Uyghur online influencer Xiren Ran Duo is alerting fellow Uyghurs to a potential crackdown by Chinese authorities on what she perceives as foreign cultural influence. Despite being within China, she openly discusses a past government crackdown, including actions against Uyghur women wearing head coverings, an issue not acknowledged by the Chinese government. In a Douyin video, she warns of pervasive government monitoring and potential consequences for social media interactions, connecting recent online expressions to a “foreign cultural invasion.” The influencer cites past measures against Uyghur women as an example, challenging China's denial of cultural repression. A Chinese Embassy spokesperson denied repression against Uyghurs in the past when contacted by VOA.


"When that cultural invasion happened, many girls and women used to wear hijab, covering their bodies entirely, similar to the attire depicted in 'The Mask of Zorro.’ Then the government got rid of them. Now, there is no one in Xinjiang who wears head coverings or hijab." – Xiren Ran Duo, Uyghur social media influencer in Guangdong province in southern China.