Uyghur activists stage hunger strike outside White House

Uyghur activists stage hunger strike outside White House
2 min read
20 September, 2022
Uyghur activists started a hunger strike outside the White House on Monday demanding the US hold Beijing accountable for human rights abuses, as world leaders gather for a UN summit in New York.
Uyghur activists want the US to hold the Chinese government 'accountable for crimes against humanity' [source: Getty]

Uyghur activists started a hunger strike outside the White House on Monday demanding the US hold Beijing accountable for the persecution of Uyghur communities. 

Photos posted by the Uyghur American Association showed activists waving the flag of East Turkestan - the name they use to refer to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region - and the US flag in Washington, alongside placards calling on Joe Biden's administration to protect Muslim communities targeted by China.

The campaigners included four people who said they had survived Chinese concentration camps.

They said they would continue their protest until Washington "at least" drafts and introduces a resolution defending Uyghur rights at the forthcoming UN Human Rights Council, according to a video posted later by the American NGO. 

"What we want is to raise awareness about the starvation [and] genocide in our homeland East Turkestan…and also we appeal to the US government to introduce a resolution at the UN Rights Council as soon as possible," said one activist in the video. 

The video was taken at 9pm local time on Monday evening when the group of mostly women and one man had been on strike for ten hours. 

World leaders are set to gather in New York City this week for the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). 

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The global summit comes just two weeks after the release of a UN report detailing serious human rights abuses against Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang region. 

"The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups….may constitute international crimes, in particular, crimes against humanity," it read. 

The persecution of Uyghur communities - which includes mass incarceration as well as instances of torture and forced sterilisation - has been well documented by leading human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW). 

However, the Chinese government claims the camps are "vocational skills training centres" necessary to deal with "extremism". 

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China rebuked the UN report as "a patchwork of false information" and has set about lobbying other countries in the international body to thwart a possible call for further examination of their "anti-extremism campaign". 

Ken Roth, former execution of HRW, said China "more than any government in the past, is trying to undermine the UN human rights system".