Statement Concerning Allegations in NOTUS Article

May 21, 2024

As Steering Committee members of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region, we have been deeply concerned to learn of allegations of sexual harassment made against individual leaders of the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Human Rights Project. We oppose gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in the world of work.

All allegations must be thoroughly investigated in accordance with best practices for investigating gender-based and sexual harassment in the world of work, including by creating safe avenues for people impacted to come forward. Such investigations should be conducted by persons independent of the organisations and who are experienced in uncovering and addressing GBVH and the organisational root causes. Remediation of abuses requires full accountability and robust corrective action.

We respect and recognise the important role that the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Human Rights Project play in the struggle for Uyghur rights and as members of the Steering Committee of the Coalition to End Forced Labour in the Uyghur Region.

We expect all organisations represented on the Coalition’s Steering Committee to have safeguards to prevent, investigate, and remediate GBVH and other forms of discrimination in the world of work. It is the position of the Steering Committee that a proper response to the present allegations includes an effective investigation and accountability measures for any perpetrators. After the allegations came to light, the Steering Committee engaged with each organisation to convey these expectations.

We welcome the steps taken by UHRP to address the allegations, which include the resignation of Nury Turkel as Board Chair of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, and the organisation’s commitment to a new independent investigation of all allegations and the introduction of steps to review shortcomings in its current procedures. We will review the status of UHRP in the Steering Committee following the outcomes of the investigation.

We also welcome the commitment from the World Uyghur Congress to an investigation into the allegations and to implement significant organisational reforms. However, WUC has not suspended its President, Dolkun Isa, who is the subject of the allegations, while the internal investigation is ongoing. WUC has for this reason been suspended from the Coalition’s Steering Committee, pending the outcome of its investigation. While not serving on the Steering Committee, WUC remains a Member of the Coalition and collaborative work continues between other WUC representatives and Coalition members.