Uyghur activist disrupts Chinese event in the Netherlands

Rights groups condemn the event as propaganda for showing Han Chinese dancers in traditional Uyghur attire.
By RFA Uyghur
2024.02.26
Uyghur activist disrupts Chinese event in the Netherlands A Uyghur activist is wrestled off the stage at a Lunar New Year event in the Netherlands on Feb. 24, 2024.
Image from X

A Uyghur activist disrupted a Lunar New Year event hosted by the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands on Saturday, storming on stage and shouting “China, stop genocide!” before organizers subdued him, a video on social media shows.

The activist, Abdulrahman Uyghur, posted a video of the protest on his Facebook page, writing that he held a sign saying, “East Turkistan is not part of China!,” the Uyghurs’ preferred name for their homeland, which China calls Xinjiang. 

He said the moment he disrupted the event was at the end, when Chinese officials were taking photos.  “Then I was tackled and led out of the venue,” he wrote. “Police took me to the police station, fined me and let me go.”

RFA attempted to contact Abdulrahman Uyghur for comment, but he did not want to speak with the media.

But Abdurehim Gheni, a fellow activist who was in the building at the same time, told RFA Uyghur that he and other activists were upset because the event was “pushing propaganda” about Uyghurs.

“We learned that they were going to portray the Uyghurs as living happily in China during this celebration,” said Gheni. “They were going to dress up Chinese girls as Uyghurs and dance in order to cover up the genocide.”

“We’re obviously against it,” he said. “We used our freedom and peacefully exposed China’s shameful deception to the world.”

RFA attempted to contact the Chinese Embassy oin the Netherlands, but calls went unanswered.

Since 2017, China has imprisoned an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in “re-education camps,” where they are subjected to forced labor. Those not in camps – which China said are vocational centers that have been closed – are subjected to surveillance, religious restrictions, forced sterilizations and forced labor. 

The United States and other governments have branded China’s persecution of the Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities a genocide, and an exhaustive United Nations investigation concluded that China’s treatment of the Uyghurs may amount to crimes against humanity.

On X, observers expressed their outrage at the event, which they said showed Han Chinese dancers in Uyghur dress.

“#ChineseNewYear festivities in #DenHaag City Hall last Saturday included Chinese girls in Uyghur dresses, dancing happily ?!?,” wrote Ardi Bouwers, part of an organization called China Circle at the University of Amsterdam. “@GemeenteDenHaag, why help promote China’s ethno-nationalist agenda? An Uyghur disrupted the event."

The Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation said on X that the event featured “fake Uyghur children,” and called Abdulrahman Uyghur “courageous.”

Translated by Alim Seytoff. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.

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