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Demonstration of Saturday, October 2, 2021

On October 2, in the streets of Paris, a large demonstration was held against the Uyghur genocide currently perpetrated by the Chinese authorities. One of the main demands of the protest was the official recognition of the Uyghur genocide by the French government.

The march started from the place de la Bastille. The procession, banners and signs high, made its way to the Place de la République to the sound of chanted, repeated slogans. The demonstration was organized to coincide with the Golden Week (黄金周 Huang jin zhou) of the PRC’s National Day (中华人民共和国国庆节 Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo guoqingjie), the seven consecutive days-off given in the country to celebrate the founding of the state on October 1, 1949.

This event brought together many Uyghur organizations. Among them the Uyghur Academy Europe, the World Uyghur Congress, the East Turkestan Youth Congress, the Belgium Uyghur Association, the Stichting Oost Turkestan organisaties Alliantie NL (Dutch Union of East Turkestan organizations) and Den Norske Uighurkommiteen (Uyghur Committee of Norway). Uyghurs came from all over France and neighbouring countries to attend. Parisians also supported the cause, bringing the total number of participants to about two thousand people.

© Frédérick Moulin 2021
© Frédérick Moulin 2021

The Uyghur flag, the Kökbayraq, light blue with the star and crescent, flew everywhere over the crowd gathered that day. The flag, originally adopted by the First Republic of East Turkestan (1933-1934) on November 12, 1933, is now a symbol of the Uyghur nation, as well as of its aspirations for independence.

© Frédérick Moulin 2021

At the Place de la République, Uyghurs, activists and politicians gave testimonies and speeches. Demonstrators then got to watch artistic performances about life in the camps and forced labour.

Among the Uyghurs in the diaspora were camp survivors from several countries, including Gulbahar Jalilova and Gulbahar Haitiwaji, who reside in France, as well as Omar Bekali and Qelbinur Sidik, who came from the Netherlands. 

Many elected officials were also present. Some of them, such as Samuel Cogolati, member of the Chamber of Representatives of the Belgian Federal Parliament, came from neighbouring countries to show their support for the demonstration. Among the mayors, deputies and other French political figures were present Raphaël Glucksmann, Clémentine Autain, Olivier Faur, Esther Benbassa, Annie Lahmer, Frédérique Dumas, Geneviève Garrigos, Philippe Nadji Bouriachi, Lamya Kirouani, etc. They were joined by French activists and personalities, including Assa Traoré and the actress and activist Lucie Lucas.

Many people, activists and supporters, came to protest against the treatment of other peoples in the PRC, especially Tibetans and Mongolians, who have been suffering increasing repression and cultural genocide for years. Mongolian and Tibetan diasporas and associations fear that they will soon share the fate of the Uyghurs.

In addition to the official banners of the demonstration, many participants made signs themselves, highlighting different aspects of the repression and exploitation of Uyghurs.

We thank all the people who were present that day. Thanks to you, the fight to end the injustice against the Uyghurs continues and grows.

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