Open Letter to G20 Leaders attending the 2016 G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China from Chinese, Tibetan, Uyghur, Hong Kong, and Southern Mongolian democracy and rights movement leaders
For Immediate Release, 31 August 2016
2016’s G20 Summit will take place during a period in which the host, the government of the People’s Republic of China, is undertaking an extreme crackdown on human and civil rights across all areas under its rule.
Since 2013, when President Xi Jinping assumed power, the authorities have systematically crushed a vast range of civil and religious society. In recent months hundreds of human rights lawyers, legal assistants and rights activists – such as Li Heping, Hu Shigen and Wu Gan – have been detained for simply exercising their fundamental rights. New laws, emanating from President Xi’s National Security Commission, now tightly control the work of overseas NGOs and harsh policies on media and the internet have been implemented. Intolerance for all forms of protest by Tibetans, Uyghurs and Southern Mongolians has grown, with a large rise in detentions, prosecutions and convictions, and highly intrusive religious controls on Uyghurs and Tibetans. In 2015, respected Tibetan buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in custody after serving 13 years in prison on trumped-up criminal charges. There is no sign of clemency for Liu Xiaobo or Ilham Tohti. Uyghurs are being “fenced-in” in their communities and individuals from Hong Kong have been arbitrarily detained and new alarming and excessive restrictions to fundamental rights for Hong Kongers have been implemented. In January 2016 Tibet was ranked as the second worst place in the world for freedom and human rights by US-based NGO Freedom House. Only Syria had a worse ranking.
Further still there is evidence of heightened state control over the daily life of citizens. This is particularly evident in Hangzhou itself, where disproportionate measures have created a de facto “martial law”, introduced in the name of G20 security: including shutting down all churches and prohibiting any religious gatherings; delaying students returning to schools; ordering non-local permanent residents and those critical of official misdeeds, whom the regime deems “political dissidents”, to leave; prohibiting passengers without national ID cards to take the subway; halting production of hundreds factories within 300 km radius of the city to provide clean air. In a blatant display of discrimination, notices recently posted in Hangzhou invite locals to report any Uyghurs to the police and claim a reward.
In recent years parallel Civil Society events (C20) have highlighted important issues and enabled independent NGOs to substantively engage with the G20 process. However China was only very belatedly persuaded to organise a C20, and the host’s belligerence towards civil society and human rights produced a pale travesty of meaningful engagement with G20. Convened by Chinese Government-organised NGOs, under the mantle of the new draconian NGO legislation and ferocious suppression of civil society, the legitimacy of China’s C20 was undermined entirely. We urge that you do not accept China’s C20 Communiqué as a true reflection of open and independent participation from civil society under China’s rule.
Considering the G20 host’s ongoing actions we believe the common vision of the Summit has been severely compromised and the shared aspirations of G20 nations have been undermined. We therefore call on you as G20 members to jointly and individually:
- Express profound concern at the Chinese government’s acute crackdown on civil society, and the unacceptable organisation of the sham-C20.
- Urge China to release all rights leaders, activists, and lawyers detained for peacefully exercising their freedom of expression or for lawfully practicing their profession.
- Urge President Xi, and local organizers, to immediately allow Hangzhou residents to return to their normal life, restore local economic activities, lift bans on religious gatherings, and stop human rights abuses.
- Take steps to ensure that 2017’s G20 hosted by Germany will redress the damage done to G20’s reputation, by agreeing a programme of enhanced engagement with China-related NGOs.
Ms Dhardon Sharling: Co-Chair of International Tibet Network.
Dr. Teng Biao: Chinese human rights activist and lawyer, and the co-founder of Gongmeng or the Open Constitution Initiative.
Mr. Alex Chow Yong-Kang: former Secretary-General of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.
Ms Rebiya Kadeer: leader of the Uyghur Democracy Movement and President of the World Uyghur Congress.
Mr Yang Jianli, Tiananmen veteran and President of Citizen Power for China/Initiatives for China.
Mr. Enghebatu Togochog: Director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.
Dhardon Sharling [English, Tibetan] +91 9418791189
Teng Biao [English, Chinese] +1 617 396 6099
Yang Jianli [English, Chinese] +1 (857)472-9039
Enghebatu Togochog [English, Mongolian] +1 (917) 698-4367
Dolkun Isa (contact for Rebiya Kadeer) [English, German, Uyghur] +49 89 54321999
Ms. Tenzin Dhardon Sharling, Co Chair, International Tibet Network, is the General Secretary of Tibetan-Chinese PEN Association, a former Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and media officer for Tibetan Women’s Association.
Mr. Teng Biao is a Chinese human rights activist and lawyer, and the co-founder of Gongmeng or the Open Constitution Initiative. He has been a vocal supporter of human rights activists such as Chen Guangcheng and Hu Jia and was arrested in March 2008 and again in February 2011. He is currently a visiting fellow at Institute for Advanced Study and President of China Against the Death Penalty.
Mr. Alex Chow Yong-Kang is a student of the University of Hong Kong. He was the secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and a major leader of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement. He led the only one dialogue on behalf of the Federation during the Movement with the Hong Kong government.
Ms. Rebiya Kadeer is the leader of the Uyghur Democracy Movement and President of the World Uyghur Congress. An activist and businesswoman, she was imprisoned from 2000 – 2005 for her relentless political and human rights activism and now lives in exile in the United States. She’s been awarded the Rafto Prize for Human Rights and in 2012 was included in the list of ‘500 Most Influential Muslims’.
Mr. Yang Jianli is a leader of China’s democracy movement and President of Initiatives for China. He has been involved in the pro-democracy movement in China since the 1980s and was forced to flee China in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square massacre. He spent 5 years in a Chinese prison between 2002 and 2007 after travelling to China on a friend’s passport to investigate labour unrest. He has met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on many occasions.
Mr. Enghebatu Togochog is the Director of the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), a New York based human rights organization dedicated to protection and promotion of the Mongolian people in Southern Mongolia.