On behalf of the Society for Threatened Peoples, Dolkun Isa, attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from April 29 – May 1st in New York to bring attention to the current human rights crisis in Xinjiang Region (East Turkistan) in China.

Dolkun Isa who is also President of the World Uyghur Congress spoke during the forum about the deteriorating human rights situation in East Turkistan where an estimated 1-2 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims are arbitrarily detained in political internment camps. He raised the internment camps, the religious persecution of Uyghurs and the indoctrination of Uyghur youth, among other issues, in a speech at the Forum. During his visit, Mr. Isa also met with state delegations to discuss Uyghur issues and to push states to take concrete action to end the crimes against humanity in Xinjiang (East Turkistan).

It was a positive development that Dolkun Isa was able to attend and participate in the Forum this year. In the last two UN Indigenous Forums, the Chinese delegation tried to stop him from participating, expelling him one year and preventing him from entering for almost a week last year.

The WUC’s suspicions that Chinese officials in the UN were using their positions to try and exclude Mr. Isa and silence voices critical of China’s human rights record were confirmed this past month after video surfaced from Chinese state media outlet CCTV, showing the former UN Under-Secretary-General and head of UNDESA Wu Hongbo saying that he represented Chinese national interests in his position as a UN official, and referred to when he ordered that WUC President Dolkun Isa be expelled from the 2017 UN Indigenous Forum.

This is a clear dereliction of Mr. Hongbo’s responsibilities as a UN official to remain neutral and refrain from representing national authorities and violates Article 100 of the UN Charter. It seems to point to a larger problem of Chinese UN Officials acting in the interest of their country, rather than the UN. The current Under-Secretary-General for UNDESA, Liu Zhenmin, also is seemingly using his position to represent China’s interests and tried to exclude Dolkun Isa from the Indigenous Forum in 2018.

This sort of behaviour should be of major concern to the UN and its member states. The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed successive Chinese Under Secretary Generals who have flaunted the UN Charter and values of the UN in pursuit of China’s national interests. The WUC called on the UN, Secretary General  and member states to uphold the rules and values of the UN and ensure that UN officials act in the interest of the organisation and not as proxies for national governments.