“Not speaking out causes guilt; but speaking out causes fear.” – anonymous Uyghur woman
Despite being far outside China’s borders, in a region synonymous with human rights, rule of law, and democracy, many Uyghurs in Europe refrain from publicly expressing concerns for their friends and family in Xinjiang or from sharing their own. To what extent is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) working to intimidate, silence, and discredit Uyghurs in Europe? And what can be done to protect their right to free expression?
Marking the launch of our latest report, this virtual event chaired by Index on Censorship’s Flo Marks examines the scope and scale of the Chinese Communist Party’s interference in Uyghurs’ right to freedom of expression in Europe.
Meet the Speakers
Dolkun Isa is the President of the World Uyghur Congress and Vice President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). He was a former student-leader of pro-democracy demonstrations at Xinjiang University in 1988 and founded the Students’ Science and Culture Union at the university in 1987 working on programs to eliminate illiteracy, promote science and lead other students in East Turkestan. He was then dismissed from university.
After enduring persecution from the Chinese government, Isa fled China in 1994 and sought asylum in Europe, and became a citizen of Germany in 2006. He has since been presenting Uyghur human rights issues to the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, European governments and international human rights organizations. He has worked to mobilize the Uyghur diaspora community to collectively advocate for their rights and the rights of the Uyghurs in East Turkistan.
Isobel Cockerell is an award-winning British journalist. Since October 2018 she has been a reporter for Coda Story, covering disinformation, the war on science and authoritarian technology. She has also written and worked as a radio reporter and video journalist covering politics, migration, LGBTQ issues, environmental affairs and culture for platforms such as WIRED, The Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, USA Today, Rappler and Eurasianet.
In 2020 she won the European press prize distinguished reporting award for a multimedia project she reported and produced for Coda in collaboration with WIRED on Uyghur women fighting a digital resistance against China’s surveillance.
She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism school.
Nus Ghani MP
Nusrat Ghani is the MP for Wealden. A former Transport Minister, she is now Vice-Chair of the 1922 Committee and an active member of the influential Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. Here, she led an inquiry on supply chain transparency which exposed slave labour in UK value chains and the data harvesting of British consumers. For this, she was sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in March 2021, the only woman in Parliament who was, in an unprecedented move by the CCP to intimidate British MPs.
Nusrat was instrumental in leading on the Genocide Amendment to the UK’s flagship Trade Bill, aiming to stop the British Government pursuing preferential trade agreements with countries committing real time genocide. She led a campaign which resulted in Parliament unanimously declaring the markers of genocide are being met in Xinjiang. She is an active member of the Inter Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).
Nusrat has spoken at numerous academic and public events on the nature of campaigning within Parliament to plug the policy gaps around declaring genocide, guaranteeing supply chain transparency, and pushing for closer scrutiny of British citizens’ data being harvested.
As a former member of both the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee, she covered issues such as such as security, policing, counterterrorism strategies and antisemitism. Nusrat is also the UK representative to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. She was nominated for the 2021 NATO PA Women for Peace and Security Award and came runner up to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Flo Marks is currently a Researcher at Index on Censorship and has been central to the research and writing of the February 2022 Uyghur Report. She has her work published in the LA Review of Books, Exposé as well as Index on Censorship. Her focus thus has been on raising attention to mass atrocity crimes, CCP influence in Europe, protecting the rights of Chinese dissidents, and empowering the voices of minorities.
She is also a politics BA student at the University of Exeter and a member of the campaign group Students for Uyghurs. Alongside other students, she exposed Exeter’s controversial links to Tsinghua (and the Uyghur Genocide ideological architect, Hu Angang), commenting to The Times on the subject. She has organised, chaired university events and developed social media posts for @studentsforuyghursexeter (Instagram). Until January 2022, she worked as a diversity and inclusion intern for MEA Consulting, giving her the professional space to drive positive change. And, in 2019 she was the UK and European winner of Zonta International’s Young Women in Public Affairs Award.