Ruth Ingram | Bitter Winter
Legislators were urged to raise their voices form their “front row seats” and denounce the CCP atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.
Taiwan’s precarious position at the front line of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) intimidation was put to the test recently as its lawmakers were urged to prioritize human rights and stand against Beijing’s tyranny in Xinjiang.
In its first international public hearing on Uyghur issues, legislators gathered online with US congressmen, journalists, human rights activists, and Xinjiang internment camp survivors to consolidate consensus and formulate a way forward for its government.
Set up jointly by the Taiwan Parliamentary Human Rights Commission and the Taiwan Parliamentary Group for Uyghurs, organizers urged their government to “stand out, condemn human rights persecution, and support Uyghurs and survivors.”
Chairman of the US, House China Task Force, Congressman Michael McCaul urged Taiwan to join the democratic world in its growing condemnation of CCP actions in Xinjiang, noting its own unique “front row seat” on economic blackmail, territorial aggression and efforts to stamp out democratic governments and personal freedoms. “Taiwan has been a shining example to the world that liberty must prevail over CCP oppression,” he said, adding that Beijing’s genocide against the Turkic peoples of Northwest China was a “warning about the kind of world the CCP was trying to build.” “Freedom loving people cannot allow this genocide to go unanswered,” he stressed.
“Taiwan’s voice carries extra weight,” he urged, because of the unparalleled threat on its doorstep, “directly under the shadow of oppression,” and “facing stakes like no other,” he said. Urging Taiwan to speak out, he reminded its legislators that their democracy was “a strategic asset in the struggle against tyranny.”
But despite US assurances and its efforts to rein in Beijing, President of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, You Shi Kun reminded the world that his republic was “suffering great pressure” from fighter jet fly pasts. Brave words that Taiwan could defend itself against the superpower were tempered with warnings that the world should “draw red lines” vis a vis Beijing, and recognize his country’s official status.
Moved by camp survivor testimonies of rape, torture and gratuitous violence, Marco Respinti, Director in charge of Bitter Winter, lent his voice to the growing number of nations now in agreement that genocide is being carried out against the Turkic people, primarily Uyghurs, of Northwest China. Beijing’s racist policies against the Uyghurs add a nuance to Beijing’s demonization of religion and its followers for the past 100 years. “But the progress that the CCP is bringing to all these people is made of sorrow, harassment, aggression, torture, and death,” he said.
He confirmed the existence of a vast network of camps and detention facilities whose design and structure Bitter Winter was the first to expose through on the ground video footage, smuggled out by citizen journalists, many of whom have tragically now disappeared.
He hit out at the deafening silence around the world of Muslim nations, scholars and media professionals, blind to Beijing’s fake news, and to myriad multinational companies using Uyghur forced labor in their factories.
Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch in reminding participants that no state should be above the law, urged legislators around the world, including Taiwan, to ensure that goods made in Xinjiang do not enter the markets of the world. “This is critically important,” she stressed.
Joining Ms. Richardson in calling the world to act, Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress and Omar Kanat, President of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, warned that unless curbed, China would continue to export its model of autocratic government. “This will have an impact on the future of the International order,” he stressed. “I urge Taiwan to stand up and recognize the atrocity crimes,” added Mr. Kanat.
Taiwan legislators, while admitting the need to improve and bolster their opposition towards China’s human rights abuses, were unanimous in their support for Uyghurs. Legislator Lai Pin Yu, said that the Uyghur situation broke her heart, and promised her parliament would debate the issue further. Support for the Uyghurs enjoyed cross party backing, and she determined her government would take urgent action, particularly where its imports of cotton products were tainted by forced labor.
Legislator Wan Yu Wang, said her government should do more in condemning CCP atrocities and pass laws “to contribute to universal human rights in Taiwan and the world.”
You Shi Kun was proud that Taiwan was the first democratic nation in the community of Chinese culture. “We highly regard democracy, human rights and freedom,” he stressed, pointing out that his country itself had only emerged into the free world from tyranny in 1987, following a struggle where the founding members themselves had risked their lives for liberty.
Quoting Martin Luther King’s “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” he urged all democratic and free countries everywhere to “step up support the Uyghurs, end the CCP oppression against them so that universal values of freedom democracy and human rights are rightly served.”
Taiwan legislators plan public hearings on the Xinjiang situation in the Autumn, and will visit the US to review and shore up their human rights policies towards Uyghurs.