After the UN’s allegations of crimes against humanity, the world must mobilise on China’s actions in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

In April 2020, CSW published a guest blog written by an expert on Uyghur culture who outlined the pervasive human rights crisis in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Over two years later, the situation remains unchanged, and as we hear from the same expert, the need for international action grows more pressing with every passing day.

“Kamil is a broken young man. Wrenched from his home at dead of night five years ago, hooded, shackled and shoved into the back of a police van, he disappeared. Two years ago, he re-emerged. Via friends of friends we heard with immense relief that he was alive, but the message we received was that he feared nothing anymore, such had been the terror he had faced daily during his incarceration. Yes he was alive, but barely.

More than two years have passed since my last blog, and there are hundreds of thousands of Kamils. Some have been ‘released’ to forced labour, many making cheap clothing for Western brands; others have been sentenced for spurious crimes in secret courts to draconian prison terms; others are still unaccounted for, and many have died.

The Chinese government has been working overtime garnering support around the world to justify incarcerating up to three million Uyghur and Turkic minority citizens from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, its North Westernmost province, in a network of at least 380 razor-wire clad and watchtower-surrounded so-called ‘Vocational Training Schools’.

Justifying the clampdowns and extra-legal detentions under the banner of its ‘War on Terror’, cash-strapped, indebted, and often fellow Islamic nations are all too happy to sign on the Chinese Communist Party’s dotted line in support of Beijing’s efforts to rein in dissent at home. China’s state mouthpiece, the Global Times, has boasted the backing of 100 countries around the world for its efforts.

The province itself has become nothing less than an open air prison. Those not corralled into the camps live life on tenterhooks. They are mercilessly surveilled by the world’s most intrusive and far-reaching system of cameras with facial recognition, mood monitoring capabilities, and racial and gait detection. Compulsory apps on phones monitor calls, texts and every download. Local police know where you are and who you are with every minute of every day. To not carry a phone, or turn it off or restore it to factory settings is enough to set alarm bells ringing and provoke immediate arrest.

Uyghurs in the diaspora have been cut off from relatives and their homeland since 2016. Communities of exiles, most of whom have no idea of the fate of their loved ones, crushed by an interminable grief, are also pursued in their new homes by the Chinese state, relentless in its pursuit of those who dare to speak out. Many are tricked into returning, blackmailed into ‘doing the right thing’ for their ageing parents, only to face years in prison on their arrival for ‘betraying’ the motherland.

Much of the world has been silent or powerless in the face of the superpower’s growing confidence on the world stage. Whereas Beijing used to care about its reputation, these days it professes high dudgeon over criticism, but ploughs ahead regardless. China’s power of veto at the UN has largely muzzled criticism from Member States, and individual countries have been left to impose their own sanctions against Xinjiang officials complicit in the atrocities.

The failure of international bodies to hear the Uyghur case saw an independent tribunal set up in London in 2021 to examine the evidence. Its damning judgement exposed crimes against humanity and genocide in Xinjiang, following orders from the top to ‘break their roots, break their connections and break their origins.’ Arbitrary detention, organ harvesting, torture, sexual violence, murder, and forced labour were some of the crimes uncovered. Mass compulsory sterilisation, abduction of children, religious oppression, cultural desecration, and linguicide added weight to the unequivocal verdict, backed up by former camp detainees who have witnessed the abuses first hand.

In the face of international legal inertia, democratic governments around the world, politicians, human rights groups, and Uyghur activists have fought back. Stepping up with debates in parliaments, laws to prevent trade with states pedalling forced labour, sanctions against complicit individuals, and more specifically with the United States’ recent Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act, presuming the taint of forced labour in all imports from Xinjiang unless proven otherwise.

A UN report, three years in the making and strongly opposed by China finally saw the light of day at the end of last month, minutes before the much-criticised UN Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s departure from office. Beijing’s ferocious opposition to the report failed to prevent publication and its damning, albeit reluctant verdict was that crimes against humanity ‘may have been’ committed by China in Xinjiang.

The report, the first time the UN has nailed its colours to the mast over the issue, means nothing if the world fails to mobilise in the face of the ‘serious human rights violations’ it has uncovered. Rights groups are pressing for a full debate in the current UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, but despite being the elephant in the room at the session, the scandal is glaring in its absence on the packed agenda.

Despite the report itself calling for further investigations into the human rights abuses, the Council president has continued to sidestep calls for a special session on China. Suspicions that Beijing continues to flex its muscles at the highest levels to gag opposition are worrying and bode ill for attempts to get justice for the 12 million or so Uyghurs held to ransom in their own homeland.”

El referéndum de Cuba del 25 de septiembre es mucho más que un tema sobre matrimonio homosexual 

El 25 de septiembre los cubanos acudirán a las urnas para votar en referéndum popular un nuevo Código de las Familias que, de ser aprobado, se convertirá en ley. La cobertura de los medios, dentro y fuera de Cuba, incluso en la prensa británica y estadounidense, ha presentado el referéndum como una votación sobre el matrimonio homosexual. La verdad es que la propuesta del Código de las Familias tiene más de 100 páginas; pero solo un puñado de los 474 artículos son relevantes para los derechos LGBTQ+. 

Presentarlo como un referéndum sobre los derechos de los homosexuales no solo es incorrecto sino también peligroso; permite al gobierno cubano oscurecer algunos de los aspectos altamente problemáticos del Código, que tienen el potencial de violar los derechos fundamentales de todos los cubanos y daría a las autoridades otra forma, muy efectiva, de silenciar las voces independientes o críticas. 

Lo más preocupante es el artículo 191 que permitiría la separación de los hijos si sus padres no cumplen con las responsabilidades detalladas en el artículo 138 del nuevo código, que incluyen los deberes de inculcar en sus hijos el amor a la patria, el respeto a sus símbolos y el respeto a las autoridades (artículo 138 (ñ)). 

Continue reading El referéndum de Cuba del 25 de septiembre es mucho más que un tema sobre matrimonio homosexual “

Cuba’s referendum on 25 September is about far more than gay marriage

On 25 September Cubans will go to the polls to vote in a popular referendum on a new Family Code, which, if approved, will become law. Media coverage, in and outside of Cuba, including in the UK and US press, has presented the referendum as a vote on gay marriage. The truth is that the proposed family code runs over 100 pages; only a handful of the 474 articles are relevant to LGBTQ+ rights.

Presenting it as a referendum on gay rights is not only incorrect but also dangerous. It allows the Cuban government to obscure some of the highly problematic aspects of the code, which have the potential to violate the fundamental rights of all Cubans and would give the authorities another, and very effective, way of silencing independent or critical voices.   

Most worrying is Article 191 which would allow for the removal of children if their parents fail to fulfil a list of responsibilities detailed in Article 138. These include the duties to instill in their children love for the homeland, respect of its symbols, and respect for the authorities (Article 138 (ñ)).

Continue reading Cuba’s referendum on 25 September is about far more than gay marriage

“I want to be a good man” – an interview with David Rosales, son of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo 

CSW spoke with David Rosales, son of Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo, pastor of the independent church Monte de Sión in Palma Soriano, who today is serving a seven-year prison sentence in the Boniato Maximum Security Prison in Santiago de Cuba. 

The religious leader was accused in December 2021 of public disorder, criminal incitement, disrespect and assault, after he and his son David participated in the national protests on 11 July 2021. The Cuban regime, using false information and witnesses, accused Lorenzo and David of responsibility for wounds suffered by ‘seven public order agents and one civil servant who was taking care of the institution. At the same time, they damaged the state bus, which was parked where the acts took place.” 

On 17 July 2021 David Rosales was released under precautionary bail because of his participation in the protests. This measure was modified, and David was exonerated from criminal proceedings after a fine, paid on 19 August 2021, was imposed.  

Continue reading “I want to be a good man” – an interview with David Rosales, son of Pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo “

“Quiero ser un hombre de bien” – una entrevista con David Rosales, hijo del pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo

La CSW habló con David Rosales, hijo del pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo de la iglesia independiente Monte de Sión en Palma Soriano, quien hoy purga una sentencia de 7 años de prisión en la Prisión de Boniato en Santiago de Cuba.

El religioso fue acusado en diciembre de 2021 de desórdenes públicos, instigación a delinquir, desacato y atentado, luego de que él y su hijo David participaran en la protesta nacional el 11 de Julio de 2021. Con información y testigos falsos, el régimen Cubano acusó a Lorenzo y David de ser los causantes de las lesiones de “7 agentes del orden y una funcionaria que custodiaba la institución. A su vez, dañaron un ómnibus del sector estatal estacionado en el lugar de los sucesos”.

El 17 de julio de 2021 se le impuso a David Rosales una medida cautelar de fianza por su participación en los hechos. Esta medida fue modificada y David fue exonerado del proceso penal tras imponérsele una multa que fue abonada el 19 de agosto de 2021.

Continue reading ““Quiero ser un hombre de bien” – una entrevista con David Rosales, hijo del pastor Lorenzo Rosales Fajardo”