The United States House of Representatives passed Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (UHRP) on May 27, 2020. The lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to sanction Chinese government officials responsible for internment camps in Xinjiang. In Xinjiang over two million ethnic Muslims have been forcibly detained in the camps. The legislation severely condemns the Chinese Communist Party for keeping ethnic Muslims in detention centres and has recommended tougher response to human rights abuses suffered by Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities. The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned before the vote the Beijing’s barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people and are an outrage to the collective conscious of the world.
He declared that the persecuted in Xinjiang are not forgotten and told Chinese President that he might tell them they are forgotten but they are not. The bill requires the President to make enactment within 180 days and thereafter annually for submitting a report to Congress identifying Chinese nationals including government officials responsible for actions against the Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz or other Muslim minority groups in China.
The legislation requires the administration to sanction the persons identified by blocking access to any property in United States and denying permission to enter the country. The bill requires US policy toward China should be linked to ending of internment camps, release of all political prisoners, ceasing of mass surveillance, ending of HRs violations and severe restrictions of religious / cultural practice in Xinjiang. It has also required a series of reports from State Department, FBI and National Intelligence on the situation in Xinjiang, efforts to protect US citizens, residents and ethnic Uyghurs in US who are experiencing harassment or intimidation by China. This requirement only reminds us that China has a history of repressing Turkic, Kyrgyz, Uyghur and other ethnic Muslim minority groups in western China. China has been systematically discriminating against these minority groups by denying them civil, political, freedom of expression, religious, fair trial and movement rights.
The ethnic minority people forcefully confined in internment camps over the past few years have consistently described political indoctrination, toruture, beatings, food deprivation apart from denial of religious, cultural and linguistic freedoms. The minorities with citizenship of other countries keep complaining about threats and harassments from Chinese officials. In 2018 Congressional hearing Mihrigul Tursun, an ethnic Uyghur recalled her horror filled with torture, sexual abuse and detention in internment camp. Her Chinese jailers pinned her to a table for electrical currents coursing through her body and mocked her belief in God. China initially denied presence of such camps and even now try to portray them as vocational training centres. It even tried to use lies, censorship and economic coercion to stop the discussion. The documents revealed by New York Times and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists exposed Chinese brutality to coercively change the culture and religion of ethnic Muslims in China. China also instituted plans to erase influence of Islam in western China by bulldozing mosques and coercion.
The leaked documents also advocated for placing ‘organs of dictatorship’ to work and show ‘absolutely no mercy’ in dealing with Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslims. In a speech, President Xi said that the weapons of people’s democratic dictatorship must be wielded without any hesitation. Even in February 2017, he told police officers and troops in Urmuqi to prepare for smashing and obliterating offensive. UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat commented that the world should take note of the legislation and it is now time to take action to end Chinese government’s atrocities in East Turkistan. Interestingly, Nancy Pelosi, US House Speaker appointed Uyghur American and UHRP Board Chair Nury Tukel as Commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Meanwhile US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security on May 22, 2020 added nine more Chinese companies in addition to 28 entities placed in October 2019 to Entity List for their involvement in human rights abuses against ethnic Muslim groups. These companies include Aksu Huafu Textiles for exploitation of forced labour and seven tech companies involved in the construction of high tech police state in western China. Earlier US Customs and Border Protection placed a withhold release order on hair products made by Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories for forced labour so that these products are not imported to USA. This company has been registered in an industrial park in the same location as a detention camp. In the current wave of global anger on China for spreading CoVID-19, the other western countries are expected to follow the suit of US in pursuing the actions against China for atrocities on ethnic minorities.