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SCO Member States Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Prevent Uyghur Activists from Attending Conference in United States

May 4, 2011

Human Rights in China (HRIC) is extremely concerned over the recent efforts
of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
to interfere with the travel of individuals of Uyghur ethnicity to a conference
titled “The Future of Uyghur People in East Turkestan.”

Uyghur leaders and activists from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, who planned to
travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the conference from May 2 to 8, were reportedly
obstructed from leaving their countries by government officials. In Kazakhstan,
World Uyghur Congress Vice President Kahriman Ghojamberdi was stopped by customs
officials at the airport, who claimed his passport was invalid for travel; and
other Uyghur activists were pressured into not attending. In Kyrgyzstan, four
Uyghur activists were also prevented from attending the conference; two of them
were told that taking this trip would “harm Sino-Kyrgyz relations.”

Such actions by the authorities of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – taken at the
same time and with respect to the same conference concerning Uyghur rights –
raise serious questions about the impact of the SCO framework on respect for
human rights. Pursuant to SCO agreements, SCO member states are obliged to cooperate
on the prevention and control of activity that member state governments deem
“terrorist,” “separatist,” or “extremist” in nature – including through cooperation
in the field of state border security and customs control.

HRIC calls on SCO member states – including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China,
and Russia – to ensure that any regional cooperation among them complies fully
with these states’ international human rights obligations, including respect
for freedom of movement, association, and expression.

For more information on the human rights impact of the SCO,

For more information on the obstruction of travel of Uyghur activists,