On Wednesday 18 September, the Italian Federation for Human Rights and the Open Dialogue Foundation co-organised a side event entitled “Suppressing Civil Society in China: Role Model for OSCE Authoritarian Members?”
Moderated by ODF’s Advocacy Officer, Xheni Dani, the side event saw the participation of several experts and human rights defenders.
Ralph Bunche, Secretary General of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), delivered an overview of China’s persecution of minorities, such as the Uyghurs, outlining the major deficiencies within the OSCE and EU in targeting and condemning China’s violations. Among his recommendations were the demands for a more coherent policy at the EU level and a concerted international approach to counter China’s attempts to subvert human rights in the international system.
Dolkun Isa, the President of the World Uyghur Congress and Vice President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), explained the dramatic situation of the persecution of Uyghurs and the infamous “re-education camps”, in fact internment camps, in Xinjiang, where muslims minorities including ethnic Kazakhs are detained in order to be assimilated in the Chinese culture and state. Isa highlighted some of the most worrying techniques put in place by Chinese authorities, such as kidnappings, mass surveillance, abuse of extradition measures, attempts to exclude representative of civil society such as WUC from participating in international fora, e.g. the United Nations.
Oguzhan Albayrak, former diplomat and current Executive Director of the Human Rights Defenders e.V. (HRD), presented the relationship between China and Turkey, underlining their economic ties and the similarities in repressing civil society and persecuting minorities. Moreover, he showed how Turkey’s ties with authoritarian countries grew after the 2016 attempted coup.
Aliaskar Yerimbetov, son of political prisoner Iskander Yerimbetov, and Daniyar Khassenov, student and activist from Kazakhstan, subjected to politically motivated persecution himself, delivered their personal views on the repression of fundamental freedoms in Kazakhstan, in particular the mass arbitrary detentions of peaceuful protesters, the abuse of extremism charges as a tool of political prosecution, the use of torture in detention places and the non implementation of international commitments.
Antonio Stango, President of the Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU), wrapped up by providing a synthetic view of the main challenges faced by the international community and recommendations to OSCE states and civil society. In particular, Stango underlined the importance of being united against the growing “community of authoritarian states” and of not falling into the prioritization of “stability” over the protection from human rights violations.
The video of the whole event is available on our FB page, at this link.
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