Home » Once-silenced Uyghur leader finally speaks to the Italian Senate

Once-silenced Uyghur leader finally speaks to the Italian Senate

Dolkun Isa
The President of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa, was back in Rome, where a China-led initiative prevented him from speaking in 2017. Now, having been invited by Senator Terzi, he denounced the CCP’s mistreatments of ethnic minorities (and had a word with our journalists)

Back in Rome. Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress, made his way to the Italian Senate on Sunday. There he spoke of the ethnic minority’s plight (at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party) by presenting his new book, “The China Freedom Trap.”

  • During his last attempt, in 2017, Mr Dolkun was subjected to an Interpol-mandated detention and questioning that prevented him from speaking at a conference.
  • That happened while the international agency was being led by Meng Hongwei, Former Deputy Minister of Public Security in China…
  • … and similar events, also entailing his arrest, occurred while Mr Dolkun was in India, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States, as he recalled.

What he told us. Speaking to our sister website, Mr Dolkun spoke of the ongoing repression the CCP carries out against Uyghurs in the westerly Xinjiang region. “Most recent reports indicate that the ‘re-education’ camps have been transformed into labour camps and prison facilities,” suggesting that Beijing is pushing to shift from mass detention to State-imposed forced labour programmes.

  • This, he stressed, has been classified to a crime against humanity and genocide by ten parliamentary bodies, including the EU, the US and Taiwan.
    • Evidence and witness testimonies have been collected by the international Uyghur Tribunal, which deliberated in December 2021 and “has played an important role in parliamentary resolutions recognising the Uyghur genocide.”
  • As far as Western action against the repression, Mr Dolkun highlighted the importance of considering the investigations on global industries and their supply chains being tainted by Uyghur forced labour, and legislating accordingly, so as to deviate funding and impose trade bans against Xinjiang and East Turkistan.
  • Although companies are often unaware of the links between their operations and the CCP’s repression, they “must presume that any workplace within East Turkistan has a high risk of forced labour,” carry out transparency investigations and disengage.

Giulio Terzi’s take. The Brothers of Italy senator, who’s a member of the Inter-Parliament Alliance on China, hosted Mr Dolkun’s panel in the Senate. He reminded the audience that the Uyghur people are “being horrendously persecuted by the CCP,” which built “freedom-denying camps, where families are made to disappear and children separated from their parents.”

A hardening stance. Since Mr Dolkun’s last visit in 2017, Italy has been radically rethinking its approach to China and its human rights violations. Rome became the only G7 capital to enter the Belt and Road Initiative in 2019, but the following governments de facto froze this heightened level of coordination and strengthened its national security laws to shield Italian companies from unduly foreign exposure.

  • Giorgia Meloni’s current government looks set to maintain this push towards disengagement. The most visible test will be her upcoming choice (or lack thereof) on letting the BRI agreement auto-renew in 2024 – something Chinese diplomats are explicitly hoping for.

Image: Dolkun Isa’s Twitter profile

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