China’s Human Rights Abuses Go Beyond the Uighurs: U.S. Congress

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (file photo)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (file photo)

The U.S. Congress has passed a legislation to condemn the human rights abuses by China. The new Act called the Uighur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response (UIGHUR) Act of 2019, which passed on a 406 – 1 vote, particularly pertains to China’s excess on millions of Uighur (alternately: Uyghurs or Uygurs) Muslims.

“Today the human dignity and human rights of the Uighur community are under threat from Beijing – Beijing’s barbarous actions, which are an outrage to the collective conscience of the world,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a statement issued Tuesday (December 3).

Across the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the Uighur people and other Muslim minorities face brutal repression: a pervasive state of mass surveillance, including the arbitrary and nonconsensual collection of children’s DNA; the mass incarceration of one to three million innocent people with beatings, solitary confinement, deprivation of food and medical treatment; forced sterilizations and other forms of tortures; incidents of mass shootings and extrajudicial killings and the intimidation and suppression of journalists courageously exposing the truth.

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Mihrigul Tursun, a former detainee testified she faced treatment so brutal ‘I would rather die then go through the torture and begged them to kill me.’ Another former detainee, Tursunay Ziyawudun, testified, ‘We’re all helpless and unable to defend ourselves. We all went through all kinds of mistreatment – the screaming, pleading, crying is still in my head.’

“Today, with this bicameral, overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation, the United States Congress is taking a critical step to counter Beijing’s horrific human rights abuses against the Uighurs,” the statement said. “We are sending a message to Beijing: America is watching and we will not stand silent.”

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This legislation will uncover the truth: requiring reports by the DNI – Director of National Intelligence – the State Department, the F.B.I. about the depth of the crisis and about China’s campaign about journalists exposing the facts. It creates accountability and ensures transparency of Chinese and foreign companies involved in the camps.

And, according to the statement, it engages the full firepower of American law and leadership, including encouraging the application of Global Magnitsky and other related sanctions, and the full implementation of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, named for our former distinguished colleague and human rights champion, Congressman Frank Wolf.

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Sadly, the statement adds, Beijing’s human rights abuses extend beyond the Uighurs. From the decades-long abuse faced by the Tibetan people, to Hong Kong’s fight for democracy and rule of law and to the jailing of journalists, human rights lawyers, Christians and democracy advocates on the homeland.

In the Congress, according to the statement, Democrats and Republicans stand united with all people fighting for the human rights in the face of China’s abuses and, last month, we were proud to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which has now become law and we are grateful that the President has signed that legislation.

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“If America does not speak out for human rights in China because of commercial issues, we lose all moral authority to speak out for human rights any place in the world,” the statement added.

“In honor of the millions fighting for their dignity, safety and rights in China and around the world, I urge a strong bipartisan vote for the Uighur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response Act of 2019, and I acknowledge the leadership of Senator Rubio in the United States Senate on this important legislation,” Speaker Pelosi said.

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Rakesh Raman