Xinjiang: Chairs Seek Urgent Action from Administration to Address Probable Crimes Against Humanity

(Washington, D.C)—On the tenth anniversary of the protests and violence that took place in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the Chair and Cochair respectively of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the following statement urging immediate action to address the high-tech surveillance and mass internment of over a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and others in the XUAR.  

“The Chinese government’s efforts to suppress human rights and fundamental freedoms have a long and brutal history in the XUAR. For the last year, we have urged the Administration, without success, to take actions to hold Chinese officials and businesses accountable for what may constitute crimes against humanity in the XUAR. The rhetoric has been tough, but it’s not enough given the egregious scope of abuses.”

“We note that there has still been no response to the April 3, 2019 letter we sent, along with 41 of our Congressional colleagues, urging the Administration to urgently address what is one the world’s worst human rights situations. On this sad anniversary, we reiterate that call to hold Chinese officials accountable. The Chinese government has operated with impunity in the XUAR for far too long. The United States must demonstrate moral leadership, and the international community must respond.”    

Background:  July 5th is the tenth anniversary of protests and violence that took place in Urumqi, the capital of the XUAR. On July 5, 2009, Chinese government authorities suppressed a demonstration by Uyghur residents that led to the deadliest violence since the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989. What followed was interethnic violence; a state security crackdown on Uyghur residents; enforced disappearances and detentions of a still unknown number of Uyghurs; trials marked by a lack of due process; and the forced repatriation of Uyghurs seeking asylum. This pattern of repression and human rights violations evolved into the region-wide system of mass internment camps and intense surveillance employed today in the XUAR.