The U.S. decision not to repatriate five Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo Bay to China also sent a positive and hopeful message. The transfer of the five Uyghurs to Albania undermines Beijing’s justification for persecuting the Uyghurs, and rejects Beijing’s use of the war on terror as an excuse for cracking down on Uyghurs engaged in peaceful activities. UAA worked tirelessly towards the release of the five detainees, filing an amicus brief on behalf of two of the men in February and March to both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. We were thrilled at the release of the five Uyghurs to Albania, and we hope to assist them as they now adjust to their new lives in Europe. I visited those brothers in Tirana, Albania last week and provided them with legal and administrative assistance. They asked me to extend their profound appreciation to our community members and many American friends who sympathized with their situation and supported their release from prison.
UAA and UHRP have gained a new level of influence and credibility among media organizations in the U.S. and other countries. We have become the go-to organization for media publications who want to have background and information on Uyghur issues. Our web sites have been sited as a source of Uyghur information by BBC and Wikipedia. To that effect, I am very pleased to announce that the UAA and UHRP web sites have been redesigned, and successfully launched today for your review and enjoyment.
The issue of the Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo Bay, in particular, has increased awareness about our organization and has stimulated media interest in broader issues such as China’s treatment of the Uyghurs and the intensified persecution of Uyghurs in the name of post-9/11 anti-terrorist efforts. Opinion pieces written by UAA and UHRP staff and officers have recently been featured in prominent publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the National Review. And our board members and staff have been interviewed by such well-known news organizations as the BBC, CNN, ABC, NRK, the Washington Post, and the New Republic, among others.
Despite the many achievements and advancements we have made, we continue to face tremendous challenges. Beijing labels any perceived Uyghur opposition to Chinese rule as “separatism” and “terrorism”, and continues to imprison and otherwise persecute anyone who criticizes the oppressive Chinese regime. It continues to expand its influence, both economically and politically, in neighboring Central Asian states, and to aggressively push for the repatriation of Uyghurs who have fled to these states. Uyghurs in East Turkistan continue to be arrested and detained arbitrarily, for such so-called wrongdoings as being in possession of “illegal” religious texts, writing “separatist” literature, and conducting religious instruction, even in their own homes. As the Beijing government actively promotes massive Han migration into our homeland, it simultaneously has tightened population control among the Uyghur people, including the enforcement of forced abortions and forced sterilizations. The brutal suppression of religious worship, controls on expression and association and the increased prohibition of Uyghur language instruction in East Turkistan do not provide cause for optimism.
However, as we, the members of the Uyghur American Association, work together to strengthen our organization and build up our connections with other groups in the Uyghur diaspora throughout the world, we will strengthen our ability to peacefully serve the cause of the Uyghur Freedom Movement. As new organizations are founded to promote our democratic aspirations and as we work with one voice to promote improved human rights conditions for Uyghurs, we will move closer to the realization of freedom and democracy in East Turkistan. With the increased collection and documentation of human rights-related developments in East Turkistan, we will enhance the prominence of Uyghur human rights issues in the international community.
Dear friends, I would like to conclude my remarks with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King. “Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love”.
In conclusion, I must say it has been a great honor to serve you and the Uyghur nation, and thank you very much once again for allowing me to be a part of this noble cause, the Uyghur Freedom Movement. Lastly, we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Good luck to you, God Bless East Turkistan, and most of all Godspeed to the Uyghur American Association!
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