A large number of exiled Uyghurs and Tibetans living in Europe on Tuesday carried out a massive anti-China protest rally here. They shouted slogans and labelled China a “terrorist nation”.
The demonstration was held when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was reviewing the human rights record of China in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It focuses on Beijing’s treatment to ethnic minorities, detention of activists and suppression of civil and religious freedom.
This was China’s third review under the UPR, a review that takes place every five years of each member country’s human rights record.
The protesters marched from Lake Geneva to Broken Chair and demanded the United Nations to intervene for the protection of minorities in Xinjiang.
Protesters displayed banners which read “Uyghurs are Arbitrarily Detained, Forcibly Disappeared and Killed in Internment Camps”, “Freedom for East Turkistan” and “Never Again! 1 million Uyghurs in Chinese Concentration Camps in 2018!”
On the eve of the UPR on China, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement, “United Nations member countries should press China about mass detention in Xinjiang and other serious rights violations at the UN Human Rights Council”.
It added, “The countries should urge China to close the ‘political education’ centers across Xinjiang, where the authorities detaining an estimated one million Turkic Muslims because Beijing views their distinct identity as evidence of political disloyalty”.
“The other countries should support the call of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights for greater UN access to Xinjiang and for an independent fact-finding mission of the region,” the statement further read.
Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress said, “Today, East Turkistan and Tibetan people are suffering because of Communist China. The Uyghur people are suffering from economic, cultural, social and religious restrictions by China’s Communist Party”.
He added, “Today, we are here to speak loudly for freedom for three million Uyghur people and more than 20 million Uyghur people, who are in East Turkistan. We call the United Nations to take concrete action against the Chinese government and protect the Uyghur people”.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan chairperson Tashi Tsering said, “In Tibet, the human rights situation has become very critical. Over 150 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, self-immolated, asking for freedom of religion, freedom of speech inside Tibet”.
“Thousands of monks have been displaced from monasteries because of Chinese government policies. Tibetans are heavily scrutinised even inside their own country. There is no freedom of movement. There is no freedom to get together. So, the situation is very, very critical. Therefore, we are here today to raise awareness and to give voice to our brothers and sisters inside Tibet,” he added.
A large number of Chinese activists have been imprisoned, tortured and fatally mistreated for the chance to challenge Beijing over its human rights record.
The HRW submission for China’s 2018 review focuses on issues including the deaths in detention of human rights defenders, including Cao Shunli, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Liu Xiaobo, Yang Tongyan and Muhammed Salih Hajim.