Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese to hold vigil against torture on Human Rights Day in London (10 December 12pm-2pm)

Friday, 9 December 2016

Media advisory

To mark Human Rights Day, the UK-based coalition Tibetan Uyghur & Chinese Solidarity UK (TUCS UK) [1] will hold a vigil outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday 10 December, from 12pm.

The theme of the vigil will be torture in China. The group will also raise the case of three political prisoners, the Chinese prisoner Zhang Haitao, the Tibetan political prisoner Tashi Wangchuk and the Uyghur political prisoner Ilham Tohti [2,3,4].

The group will submit a letter to the Prime Minister at Downing Street at noon. At 12:30pm the group will walk up Whitehall to the street in front of the National Gallery to hold the vigil.

During the vigil, the group will hold up messages calling for an end to torture in China, East Turkestan and Tibet, and calling for political prisoners to be released. Some of the participants will wear handcuffs and gags. There will be several short speeches throughout the event.

The vigil comes at the end of a year in which the Chinese government has continued its crackdown against civil society, with increased restrictions on freedom of expression, freedom of movement and freedom of religion. Torture remains endemic, with the UN Committee Against Torture expressing serious concerns over China’s continued use of torture to extract confessions [5].

The Chinese Communist Party’s war on “extremists”, “separatists” and “terrorists” in Tibet, East Turkestan and throughout China has led to thousands of government-sponsored acts of torture and hundreds of extrajudicial killings. In the past two years, President Xi Jinpings’s government has been responsible for the deaths of over 600 Uyghur civilians in East Turkestan. In Tibet, the repression by the authorities has been so severe that over 140 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest, the most recent of which took place yesterday [6]. Also in the last year, China has executed more prisoners than the rest of the world put together, the majority of whom were Uyghurs.
In light of the UK’s policy to promote and protect human rights, and China’s human rights record, Tibetan Uyghur and Chinese Solidarity UK urge the UK government to:

• Make a robust public statement condemning China’s human rights abuses and specifically call for the immediate and unconditional release of Chinese blogger and activist Zhang Haitao, Uyghur intellectual Ilham Tohti, and Tibetan language advocate Tashi Wangchuk.

• Urge China to immediately ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and uphold human rights obligations as defined under international treaties and in its own constitution, including: upholding the rule of law, allowing freedom of expression, religion and movement, ending the systematic use of torture and releasing all political prisoners.

• Work multilaterally with other countries to hold China to account over its human rights abuses and press for adherence to universally-accepted human and civil rights.

• Utilise all available international mechanisms, such as the Universal Periodic Review of China’s human rights record and other devices available via the United Nations, to encourage the Chinese government into substantial progress on human rights.

• Set benchmarks for the UK-China Human Rights Dialogues, in order to ensure progress is made and to assess the effectiveness of the dialogues.

• Raise human rights with China at every opportunity and at all government and ministerial levels, and to be open and transparent in all its dealings with China.


Contacts (available for interview):

Shao Jiang (Chinese activist): t.shaojiang@gmail.com

Rahime Mahmut (Uyghur activist):  reyiman@yahoo.co.uk

Kunsang Dolma (Campaign Manager, Tibetan Community UK): tcb.campaign1@gmail.com

John Jones (Campaigns & Communications Manager, Free Tibet): john@freetibet.org


[1] Tibetan Uyghur and Chinese Solidarity UK is a coalition of organisations and activists that opposes the tyrannical rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and works to promote human rights, freedom and democracy for all oppressed people and nations under the CCP. The coalition includes the following organisations: Chinese Solidarity Campaign, Federation for Democratic China, Friends of Tiananmen Mothers, Students for a Free Tibet UK, Tibetan Community in Britain, Tibet Society, Uyghur Association and Uyghur Community UK.
Email: cuts.uk@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/cuts.uk

[2] Zhang Haitao, a Chinese blogger and activist, was sentenced on 15 January 2016 to 19 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. Zhang was arrested after publicly criticising China’s repressive policies toward Uyghurs and Tibetans. He has been repeatedly tortured and denied access to medical treatment in prison.

[3] Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan businessman, is currently in detention awaiting trial. He was arrested on 26 January 2016 after the New York Times publicised his efforts to promote Tibetan culture and language, which included a proposed lawsuit against local authorities for the lack of Tibetan language education.

[4] Ilham Tohti, a Uyghur academic, was sentenced to life imprisonment on 23 September 2014 on separatism-related charges. He is an advocate of autonomy for Uyghurs and worked to promote understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese. In October 2016, he was awarded the Martin Ennals prize for human rights defenders.

[5] ‘Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of China’, United Nations Committee Against Torture, 3 February 2016 : http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT%2fC%2fCHN%2fCO%2f5&Lang=en

[6] 'Self-immolation protester calls for freedom in Tibet', Free Tibet, 8 December 2016 https://www.freetibet.org/news-media/na/self-immolation-protester-calls-freedom-tibet