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Uyghur News Recap: October 20-27, 2023

Mexmutjan Memet, a Uyghur man serving a 20-year prison sentence in Xinjiang, is reportedly in critical condition due to poor prison conditions, according to his wife. Memet had returned to Xinjiang in 2016 to accompany his mother back after her visit to Turkey, only to have his passport confiscated upon arrival, leading to his arrest in 2017. He was charged with violating China’s one-child policy, providing religious education to his children, and traveling to Turkey. His wife, Kifaye Ehsan, has expressed concerns about his deteriorating health and has called on international organizations to pressure the Chinese government to facilitate his access to medical treatment and secure his release. At least seven members of Memet’s family have been sentenced to prison since his return to Xinjiang.

A group of U.S. lawmakers is calling for a ban on seafood processed in two Chinese provinces and a prohibition on American companies doing business with Chinese facilities using forced labor. The call is motivated by concerns about human rights abuses, including those discovered on China’s fishing fleet and in seafood processing plants involving Uyghur forced labor. This effort adds to previous actions by U.S. lawmakers to limit imports of Chinese goods due to human rights issues, which could further strain U.S.-China relations amid ongoing trade tensions.

The recent detention of Uyghur filmmaker Ikram Nurmehmet in Beijing underscores the ongoing arrests of Uyghurs and challenges China’s positive portrayal of living conditions for Uyghurs. On May 29, 2023, Nurmehmet was arrested and transported to Xinjiang from Beijing. Despite China’s assertions of normalization in Xinjiang, concerns persist due to ongoing repression and the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs.

The Uyghur Human Rights Project initiated a joint letter from Uyghur organizations urging U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to prioritize addressing the Uyghur genocide in his talks with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Washington. The groups emphasized the importance of human rights and the unjust detention of Uyghur political prisoners. The letter also highlighted China’s attempts to downplay ongoing atrocities and called for the closure of “concentration camps” and the release of political prisoners.

Xinjiang’s foreign trade surged by 47% to 253 billion yuan ($34.6 billion) in the first three quarters of the year despite U.S. sanctions over Uyghur forced labor concerns. Exports from Xinjiang rose by nearly 49%, imports by 40%. Central Asian countries boosted Xinjiang’s trade. China’s trade with Belt and Road Initiative nations increased by nearly 50%, while Xinjiang’s exports shifted to electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar cells. Import volume also rose for mineral products and food. China’s overall exports and imports fell by 6.2% in September.

The U.N. refugee agency is investigating the situation of 18 Uyghur families in Pakistan facing possible deportation due to a government order expelling illegal immigrants, issued after recent suicide bombings. These families, totaling around 100 people, are descendants of those who migrated from Xinjiang to Afghanistan and later to Pakistan. They lack Afghan or Chinese passports as well as Pakistani residence permits. The families fear deportation to Afghanistan or China, both of which pose risks to their safety and well-being. The U.N. refugee agency collected their information and is yet to provide updates. Rights activists express deep concern and call for international law compliance.

Source : VOA News