The Free University (VU) of Amsterdam is closing the controversial institution which conducted research on human rights. The so-called Intercultural Center for Human Rights was discredited because it was funded by China. This is sensitive due to the situation surrounding Uyghurs and Tibetans in this country.
The LIT wrote in January this year about financing China. The VU then appointed a committee to investigate the center.
According to the committee, there is no evidence that individual scholars have had their views “bought” or that self-censorship has taken place under pressure from Chinese financiers. Moreover, there was not enough “openness and transparency” as to where the money for the center came from. The VU itself says it was “insufficiently alert”.
A researcher at the center has previously said the plight of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority is not too dire. According to observers and Western countries, it is systematically suppressed by the government in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Human rights groups accuse Beijing of detaining more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslims, imposing forced labor and forcibly sterilizing women.
The VU says the move is a matter of free speech, but the university disagrees. “Whitewashing or even denial of the situation of Uyghur Muslims is extremely inappropriate and does not contribute in any positive way to improving the lot of this population group,” said Rector Magnificus Jeroen Geurts.
The VU also praises the role of the LIT† The journalists’ revelations “contributed to an accelerated awareness of the risks surrounding the centre’s unilateral funding”. This confirms “the value of an independent and free press, which holds up a mirror to us at different levels of society and politics, but certainly also of science”, according to the university.
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