BRUSSELS, Oct 1 (KUNA) -- Hundreds of Uyghurs together with some European human rights activists held a demonstration near the European Union Headquarters Tuesday demanding the respect of their religious freedom and human rights by China.
"The very existence of the Uyghurs as a distinct people is under threat as one-three million innocent Uyghurs are being detained in internment camps and our culture, language, religion and ethnic identity is being eroded by the Chinese government," President of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa told the large gathering.
"The Chinese crackdown on human rights and freedoms requires a strong and principled response from the EU and the international community to hold the Chinese government accountable for its actions," he said.
Phil Bennion, a British Member of the European Parliament, expressed his solidarity with the Uyghurs and condemned "their systematic oppression by China."
The demonstration was held to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China today.
The organizers of Tuesday's March included the World Uyghur Congress, the International Campaign for Tibet, the Belgian Uyghur Association and the Tibetan Community in Belgium.
Vincent Metten, Policy Director at the International Campaign for Tibet in Brussels, in his speech said "China must allow Tibetans, Uyghurs, Mongols and others to practice their religion freely and to respect cultural diversity."
"Human rights issues should become a top priority for the new EU leadership in its relations with China and must be systematically be raised at the highest political level," he said.
The organisers in a press release said Uyghurs are predominantly of Muslim Turkish ethnicity who live in the Xinjiang province of China. The Uyghurs call it East Turkistan.
The press release noted that "three million Uyghur Muslims have been sent to concentration camps run by Chinese Government."
They called on the EU and the international community to put pressure on China to close these concentrations camps. (end)