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Uyghur News Roundup: April 1–7, 2023  

FILE - Huseyin Celil is pictured at his home in Canada. He was imprisoned in China in 2006 for speaking up for Uyghur rights, and now the Uyghur Human Rights Projects and other entities are calling for his release. (Photo courtesy of Kamila Talendibaeva)
FILE - Huseyin Celil is pictured at his home in Canada. He was imprisoned in China in 2006 for speaking up for Uyghur rights, and now the Uyghur Human Rights Projects and other entities are calling for his release. (Photo courtesy of Kamila Talendibaeva)

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

Designer, discussion advocate for labor rights in fashion industry

Fashion designer and human rights activist Louise Xin made a statement against forced labor in the fashion industry by hosting a fashion show at the European Parliament. The show featured models of diverse ethnicities, including Uyghur women who survived Chinese internment camps and forced labor in Xinjiang. Following the show, representatives from labor rights groups and NGOs participated in a panel discussion to explore effective forced-labor legislation. Xin, known for using upcycled and repurposed material in her designs, emphasized that clothes tell a story about who wears and makes them.

Fashion show at EU's Parliament draws attention to forced labor in apparel industry

China demolishes bazaar; Uyghurs fear erasure of heritage

Radio Free Asia reported that the Chinese government has begun demolishing the centuries-old Khan Bazaar in Kashgar, which was a vibrant hub for Uyghur merchants and a popular tourist destination. The demolition is part of an "optimization" initiative to upgrade the area with modern structures. However, some Uyghurs view it as a deliberate attempt by the government to erase their heritage and force assimilation into mainstream culture. The demolition and construction of structures in Xinjiang has resulted in the loss of homes, businesses and arable lands for many families.

Demolition of Kashgar’s Khan Bazaar creates uncertain future for Uyghur shop owners

Uyghur activist recounts brutalities of Baren uprising

On the 33rd anniversary of the Baren uprising, Uyghur American rights activist Rushan Abbas recounted the horrors of the events. In the 1980s, the Chinese government forced Uyghur and other Turkic women to undergo abortions as part of their campaign of colonization, forced assimilation and population control, which sparked peaceful protests and eventually an uprising in Baren Township. The Chinese government responded with brutal force, massacring civilians, including women and children. Abbas called on the international community to speak out against such atrocities and hold the perpetrators accountable.

EXCLUSIVE: Recounting China's Baren crackdown, activist Rushan Abbas wants world to speak out on Uyghurs

Journalists honored for Xinjiang Police Files probe

A group of journalists has been awarded the 2023 IJ4EU Impact Award for reporting on the Xinjiang Police Files, an investigation that shed light on the Chinese state's alleged detention of more than a million Uyghurs in internment camps. The investigation included never-before-seen photos from inside the camps and evidence of mass internment and arbitrary detention, which triggered global calls for transparent investigations into China's human rights violations.

The Xinjiang Police Files - #IJ4EU Winner

Groups urge release of Uyghur Canadian imprisoned in China

In 2006, Huseyin Celil, a Uyghur Canadian, was imprisoned in China for speaking up for Uyghur rights. After being arrested in Uzbekistan and handed over to China, he was charged with "terrorism" and "splitism," and was initially sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life, and then to 20 years. The Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights and the Uyghur Human Rights Project have called for his release, as has the Canadian government, which has been actively involved in his case and continues to discuss it with Chinese officials. The Chinese Embassy in Washington says it's unaware of the specifics of the case.

Rights group calls for release of Uyghur Canadian citizen held in Chinese jail for 17 years

In brief

— The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is investigating U.S. and foreign auto manufacturers and suppliers for potential links to forced labor practices in China's Xinjiang region. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act passed last year prohibits the import of goods made in Xinjiang unless importers can prove that they are not made using forced labor. The investigation was initiated following a report last December by the Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice, which found links between Chinese companies operating in Xinjiang and automakers that import parts from them. The companies have until Tuesday to reply to the committee's letters. Several companies, when responding to VOA's inquiry, emphasized their commitment to human rights and their willingness to address the issue.

US Senate Probes Alleged Chinese Forced Labor in Auto Supply Chain

Quote of note

“China must also allow consular access to Canadian officials and family members. China also has to clarify when Huseyin [Celil] will be released, given that he's nearly served his 20-year reduced sentence, and what his fate will be once released. Huseyin must be able to reunite with his family.”

— Peter Irwin, a senior program officer at the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project