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Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China - Support for Uyghur Population

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Tags: China, Human Rights, Political Leadership

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I rise to speak tonight as a proud member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. This is an international cross-party group of legislators who are working to reform the way democracies around the world respond to the threats, aggression and genocidal behaviours of the Chinese Communist Party.

I will talk tonight about one particular Uyghur who has faced persecution at the hands of Beijing. As we know, according to reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other credible researchers it is estimated up to two million ethnic Uyghur Muslims from the Xinjiang region of China have been subject to an attempted genocide.

People have been put into concentration camps. There have been disappearances, death, forced marriages of Uyghur women to Han Chinese men, the taking of Uyghur children from their parents, the flattening of whole villages and thousands of mosques. The sending of Uyghurs from concentration camps into slave labour across China for many of those brands that many members of our community buy today. The Uyghur people have been hunted and persecuted even when they left Xinjiang and China. Uyghurs in exile, whether they be in the UK, EU, America or here, all tell a similar story of not feeling safe from the reach of the Chinese government.

Idris Hasan, a 33-year-old Uyghur man and father of three had fled China in about 2012 and went to Turkey where he has a wife and three children. After a period of time Mr Hussein did not feel safe in Turkey so he flew threw to Morocco to try to get to the EU where he thought his family could join him. As it turns out, the Chinese government had placed an Interpol Red Notice on Mr Hasan so when he arrived at the airport in Casablanca he was immediately detained. That provoked a global outcry calling on Mr Hussein not to be sent back to China where he would undoubtedly face torture and persecution and potentially - and in fact, most likely - incarceration.

We put out a statement at the time because I regard it as the responsibility of everyone who is privileged to live in a democracy to speak up for human rights wherever you see human rights are being abused, whether it be here on this island, on mainland Australia or anywhere around the world.

On 6 August as a member of IPAC, I released a statement calling on the Moroccan Government to not extradite Mr Hasan following his arrest under the Interpol Red Notice. I noted that Australian Uyghur communities live in fear. They face intimidation and threats from the CCP and its supporters in Australia.

I hope that other members of the Tasmanian Parliament consider joining the Inter Parliamentary Alliance on China. There are members in this place who have federal colleagues from both parties who are a part of IPAC and I ask that they raise their voices for people like Mr Hasan.

He was arrested at Casablanca airport on 19 July this year, under the Interpol Red Notice. On 20 July airport officers handed him over to the National Brigade of the Judicial Police National Office for Combating Transnational Organized Crime and informed him that he was wanted by the Chinese authorities for a terrorism case. This is a person who had not lived in China for the past nine years and so what has transpired at Interpol is an understanding that the Chinese government is using Interpol for political purposes to target ethnic minorities.

This would apply not just to Uyghur Muslims, it would also apply to Tibetans in exile, and potentially people from Hong Kong. Fortunately Australia does not have an extradition treaty with the Chinese government. We would not send a person who faced almost certain persecution, torture and jailing back to China.

But this story at least has something approaching a happy ending. "Interpol has cancelled a Red Notice for a Uyghur man sought by Beijing", reports the South China Morning Post, "on 24 August after the international body conducted a review as accusations mount that it is being used to repatriate dissidents to China. The Red Notice had led Moroccan authorities to detain Idris Hasan, a 33 year old Chinese national born in Xinjiang and also known as Yidiresi Aishan after he arrived in Casablanca on 19 July from Turkey where he had lived since 2012. 'The Interpol General Secretariat has cancelled the Red Notice for Yidiresi Aishan and informed all 194-member countries,' an Interpol statement said on Monday."

There is a strong innate human desire for freedom and to live a good life no matter who you are, where you have come from, what your gender is, what your faith is. That is a foundation of universal human rights. We have to respect that.

I hope that other members of this place, particularly one member, my colleague the Labor member for Clark, have a think about the importance of raising these issues and using our voice and our power that we have to speak up for persecuted people no matter where they are in the world.