Uyghurs in the Netherlands call on Dutch gov to defend their rights

Uyghur people demonstrate in front of the UN. Photo: SFT HQ via Wikimedia Commons
Uyghur people demonstrate in front of the UN. Photo: SFT HQ via Wikimedia Commons

A group of Dutch Uyghurs have lodged a formal protest against the Chinese government to highlight the plight of their people and Chinese intimidation in the Netherlands, broadcaster NOS reports.

The Uyghurs, some 1,500 of whom are currently living in the Netherlands, are an ethnic minority people concentrated in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang.

Human rights organisations say around one million Uyghurs are currently being detained in camps where they are being tortured and brainwashed. The Chinese government describes them as ‘rehabilitation camps’ aimed at rooting out terrorism.

The Netherlands, along with 22 other countries, last month asked the Chinese government stop detaining Uyghurs but more needs to be done, the Uyghurs in the Netherlands said.

The Uyghurs rarely speak out because they fear their relatives in China will suffer the consequences, NOS said. But after a number of Uyghurs in the Netherlands received intimidating phone calls from Chinese officials, they have demanded the government take action.

Esa Sawut, who supports the protest, and who is involved in the ‘Europa East Turkestan educational centre’ said he was told by a Chinese official to stop his activities immediately or five of his family members would be arrested.

‘I hope the Netherlands, via diplomatic channels, will talk about the situation to the Chinese government, or at least find out about what has happened to our relatives,’ Sawut told current affairs programme Nieuwsuur.

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