As female Uyghur activists in the diaspora, we are writing to raise awareness about the grave situation faced by Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples, specifically women in East Turkistan, also referred to as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the Chinese authorities. Uyghur and Turkic women are currently facing some of the most egregious crimes carried out by Chinese State actors, including arbitrary detention, torture, rape, forced sterilisation and abortion.
Beyond these crimes, Uyghur and Turkic women are also forced to marry Han Chinese men. Mothers are forcibly separated from their children, who are often placed in Chinese state-run orphanages, in spite of the fact that their parents are alive. According to the Chinese state media, Communist Party cadres are incentivized by the government to move into Uyghur homes under a “double relatives” program to monitor and supervise the family. For most Uyghur women, whose husbands are in concentration camps or in prisons, this creates a humiliating environment where women are subject to sexual abuse.
Recently, courageous women from East Turkistan have courageously come forward to share their horrific experiences of systematic sexual violence which they were subjected to inside the concentration camps in East Turkistan. In response to these victims’ testimonies, the Chinese government officials have started an aggressive campaign against these women to slander them through personal, sexist attacks on their character.
Uyghur and Kazakh women have long been at the forefront of this crisis, providing the international community with their firsthand experience and exposing the Chinese government’s genocidal policies in East Turkistan. The entire international community ought to applaud them for bravely disclosing firsthand experiences.
The most intrinsic rights of Uyghur and Turkic women in East Turkistan are being violated on a daily basis. The Chinese government has effectively taken control over their body, labour rights and family lives.
The international outcry is growing. Various governments, elected officials, institutions, including the United Nations and the European Union, faith leaders, trade unions, investor alliances, multinational corporations, athletes, and non-governmental organizations are beginning to pay attention to the genocide taking place in East Turkistan. It’s time for women across the world to stand up for Uyghur women and help us advocate for the true respect and dignified lives that Uyghur and Turkic women deserve.
Diversity and inclusivity are essential to our cause. We need women all around the world to stand up with us in the face of atrocities like the ones Uyghur and other Turkic women are currently experiencing.
On the occasion of the 2021 International Women’s Day, we call on international women’s institutions as well as our feminist allies from across the world to speak out against the CCP’s brutal repression of Uyghur and Turkic women.
Gulbahar Jalilova, Kazakh Camp Survivor
Mihrigul Tursun, Uyghur Camp Survivor
Qelbinur Sidiq, Uzbek Camp Survivor
Sayragul Sautbay, Kazakh Camp Survivor
Tursunay Ziyawudun, Uyghur Camp Survivor
Zumret Dawut, Uyghur Camp Survivor
Asiye Uyghur, Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation
Mukerrem Qurban, Alberta Uyghur Association
Ramila Chanisheff, Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association
Rushan Abbas, Campaign For Uyghurs
Münevver Özuygur, East Turkistan Nozugum Culture and Family Association
Seide Abdurahman, Munich Uyghur School
Aygul Yusup, Norwegian Uyghur Committee
Rahima Mahmut, Stop Uyghur Genocide
Elfidar Iltebir, Uyghur American Association
Zubayra Shamseden, World Uyghur Congress Human Rights Committee
Amangul Aziz, World Uyghur Congress Women’s Committee