Accessibility links

Breaking News

Uyghur News Recap: Nov. 3-10, 2023

FILE - Helena Kennedy, left, and Rahima Mahmut hold placards as activists protest at the British Foreign Office in London, Feb. 13, 2023. They were demanding a meeting with the foreign secretary to highlight concerns for compatriots in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
FILE - Helena Kennedy, left, and Rahima Mahmut hold placards as activists protest at the British Foreign Office in London, Feb. 13, 2023. They were demanding a meeting with the foreign secretary to highlight concerns for compatriots in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Here's a look at Uyghur-related news from around the world this week:

Filmmaker Alleges Torture, False Confession in Xinjiang Detention

Uyghur filmmaker Ikram Nurmehmet says he was tortured and forced to make a false confession to "separatism" and "terrorism" charges while detained in Xinjiang. Nurmehmet studied filmmaking in Turkey, which his supporters say made him a target of state scrutiny. Represented by a state-appointed lawyer, he faces more than eight years in prison. China's anti-terrorism campaign has led to an estimated half million people imprisoned in Xinjiang. More than 300 intellectuals and cultural elites are currently in extralegal detention.

'All Static & Noise' Documentary Exposes Uyghur Persecution in Xinjiang

The documentary "All Static & Noise" premiered Sunday in Washington, shedding light on China's persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Through firsthand accounts, animation and footage, the film unveils the reality of internment camps and challenges China's denial of genocide allegations. Drawing from 300 hours of interviews with exiled Uyghurs, the documentary features prominent activists Jewher Ilham and Abduweli Ayup. According to a Radio Free Asia report, despite facing risks, the subjects felt compelled to speak out. The film aims to ignite global discussions on state-sponsored persecution.

Uyghur Rights Advocate Rahima Mahmut Honored at Buckingham Palace

Uyghur activist Rahima Mahmut was honored at Buckingham Palace for her humanitarian work defending Uyghurs in China. King Charles III praised her work as crucial. As the founder of Stop Uyghur Genocide, she works to defend Uyghur rights and campaigns against their mass incarceration in Xinjiang. Mahmut, who has lived in the U.K. since 2000, uses her singing talent for international awareness. Actively engaged in campaigns, including the Genocide Amendment and the boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Mahmut highlighted collective efforts at the reception.

Artist Inspired by Uyghur Cave Murals Honored at Florence Biennale

Uyghur artist Lekim Ibragimov, inspired by ancient Uyghur Buddhist cave murals in Xinjiang, received a special commendation at the Florence Biennale in Italy. Ibragimov, a graphic artist and painter living in Uzbekistan, spent over 40 years studying and incorporating the cave murals' style into his work. The Florence Biennale recognized his abstract, surreal artwork at the event featuring 1,500 works by over 600 artists from 85 countries. His paintings, influenced by the Kizil Thousand-Buddha Caves in Xinjiang, earned praise for their unique style and portrayal of Uyghur culture. The award comes amid Chinese government repression in Xinjiang and highlights the resilience of Uyghur artists in preserving their cultural heritage.

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Challenges Topic of Discussion

Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Robert Silvers addressed compliance challenges with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) on Wednesday at Altana's Directions Summit in New York. He acknowledged the complexity of UFLPA and companies' difficulty in understanding its requirements. Silvers emphasized the need for companies to know their supply chain for compliance and business survival.

Forced Labor Expert Now Policy Adviser at US Department of Homeland Security

Laura Murphy, previously a professor specializing in human rights and contemporary slavery at Britain’s Sheffield Hallam University, has transitioned to a role as a policy adviser to Robert Silvers, undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In her new capacity, she is focusing on forced labor policy and enforcement. Known for her criticism of fashion companies connected to Uyghur forced labor allegations in China, Murphy's research has identified 55,000 companies linked to Uyghur forced labor, and her work has played a role in investigations involving major brands such as Nike and Zara.

Human Rights Attorney Nury Turkel Speaks Out on Podcast

Human rights attorney Nury Turkel discusses China's modern-day genocide of the Uyghur people on Christianity Today's "The Russell Moore Show." Born in a Chinese reeducation camp, Turkel sheds light on U.S.-China dynamics, the Chinese Communist Party’s oppression of Uyghurs, and the ethical concerns tied to technology and platforms such as TikTok. The conversation emphasizes the need for Christians to understand global issues and offers concrete opportunities to address human rights abuses.

US Uyghurs Navigate Culture Preservation Amid Surveillance, Risks

Uyghurs in the U.S., aware of the potential dangers to their Xinjiang-based families, are creatively preserving their culture while navigating the risks associated with speaking out against human rights abuses. Figures like Qudus, who owns a Uyghur restaurant in New York, and Irade Kashgary, co-founder of a Uyghur language and culture school in Virginia, employ businesses and education to introduce Americans to Uyghur culture. Activists, both in the U.S. and abroad, persist in exposing the human rights violations against Uyghurs in Xinjiang despite China’s surveillance and repression in the region, including targeting diaspora families.

News in brief

- Canada's Corporate Ethics Watchdog, the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, has initiated an investigation into allegations of Zara Canada Inc.'s links to Uyghur forced labor in China. The investigation was prompted by complaints from 28 civil society organizations. While Zara and its parent company, Inditex, deny these allegations and claim no ties to Xinjiang factories, the dispute highlights contrasting interpretations of their involvement.

Quote of note

"The complainant has made a strong case that Zara should work with independent monitors and the complainant's representatives to ensure that its clothing does not involve forced labor of Uyghurs and is not using delaying tactics."

— Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, senior fellow at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and senior fellow at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy