Uyghur American Association commemorates the victims of Chinese state violence on June 4, 1989 State censorship and lack of accountability for human rights violations deny the Chinese people their democratic rights by The Uyghur American Association

Uyghur Human Rights Project and Uyghur American Association June 2, 2015

[Note: The Center for Islamic Pluralism endorses this statement by the Uyghur American Association.]

The flag of East Turkestan.

The flag of East Turkestan.

On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Uyghur American Association (UAA) wishes to express its solidarity with Chinese democrats seeking to uphold the ideals of freedom and democracy voiced by ordinary Chinese in 1989.

UAA urges the People’s Republic of China to open an independent inquiry with international observers into the June 4, 1989 killings in Beijing in order for a full account of the events to emerge. The Chinese government’s continued censorship of the massacre and rising suppression of free speech since the advent of Xi Jinping’s presidency compounds the suffering of the victims’ families and diminishes the possibility of genuine democratic representation for the Chinese people.

“The massacre of innocent protestors on June 4, 1989 was a crime against humanity. Chinese officials responsible for those crimes must face justice and the families of the victims should be dignified with the truth,” said UAA president, Alim Seytoff in a statement from Washington, DC.

“The might of the state and the force of the military was deployed against unarmed and peaceful protestors on Tiananmen Square. Rather than loosen its comprehensive grip on power, the Chinese Communist Party killed Chinese citizens who disagreed with their authoritarian rule. It is no surprise Chinese officials moved quickly to suppress information of this crime in order to maintain the fiction of their legitimacy to govern,” Mr. Seytoff added.

Our beloved brother Örkesh Dölet [Wu'er Kaixi] in Beijing, 1989.

Our beloved brother Örkesh Dölet [Wu’er Kaixi] in Beijing, 1989.

Among the student protestors at Tiananmen in the spring of 1989 was a young Uyghur student, Örkesh Dölet (widely known by his Chinese name, Wu’er Kaixi). Örkesh, who had been studying at Beijing Normal University, confronted Premier Li Peng on national television about the need for the central government to listen to the people and their demands for political and economic change. Following the government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators, Örkesh’s name was the second on a list of 21 most-wanted student leaders of the Tiananmen protests.

The use of state violence, including extrajudicial killings, against peaceful and unarmed civilians has continued since the Tiananmen Square Massacre, especially against the Uyghur people of East Turkestan.

According to data assembled by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) from research into Chinese and overseas media, a range of 656 to 715 individuals lost their lives in the violence that engulfed Uyghurs and other ethnicities between 2013-14.

Although these numbers should not be considered definitive, as the Chinese government tightly controls information in East Turkestan, they are indicative of deterioration in security conditions since Xi Jinping became Chinese president in early 2013.

Due to China’s tight control of information, the extreme lack of transparency surrounding incidents of state violence in East Turkestan should cause alarm among independent observers. Incidents such as the one in Alaqagha in May 2014 merit further investigation, as do credible allegations of state violence in Hanerik (June 2013), Siriqbuya (November 2013) and Elishku (July 2014).

In addition to its call for a transparent and international investigation into the Tiananmen Square Massacre, UAA asks the democratic Chinese community to stand with Uyghurs in requesting Chinese government accountability for extrajudicial killings in East Turkestan.

UAA reminds the international community that silence on China’s state violence against unarmed citizens will be widely interpreted by the Chinese authorities as a license to crush the aspirations to freedom, democracy and human rights of all people in China.

The preamble to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.” This statement on the universality of human rights applies as much to the authoritarian governments of 2015 as it did to the community of nations post-World War Two.

* * * * *

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) works to promote the preservation and flourishing of a rich, humanistic and diverse Uyghur culture, and to support the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, democratic means to determine their own political future.

The UAA has undertaken the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) for the purpose of promoting improved human rights conditions for Uyghurs and other indigenous groups in East Turkestan, on the premise that the assurance of basic human rights will facilitate the realization of the community’s democratic aspirations.