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Action Alert: Urge Congress to Support Bill Condemning Human Rights Violation Against Turkic Muslims in China

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/18/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on all those who value religious liberty to urge their members of Congress to support bipartisan legislation condemning human rights violations against Turkic Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province and calling for an end to the arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment of these communities inside and outside China.

The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 was introduced this week in both chambers of Congress in response to reports of gross human rights violations by Chinese officials against the country’s Uyghur population, including the mass internment of over one million persons, pervasive high-tech surveillance across the Xinjiang province, and the systemic denial of the freedoms of expression, religion, and movement. The bill is virtually identical to the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2018.

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The bill also:

  • Calls for the imposition of sanctions on China under the International Religious Freedom Act
  • Urges the application of sanctions against specific Chinese government officials under the Global Magnitsky Act
  • Asks the Secretary of Commerce to consider prohibiting the sale of U.S.-made goods to Chinese state agents in the Xinjiang province
  • Calls on U.S. companies operating in Xinjiang to publicly assert that their commercial activities are not contributing to human rights violations
  • Calls on the Secretary of State to consider creating a special position, the Special Coordinator for Xinjiang, to coordinate the U.S. response to these human rights violations
  • Calls on the Secretary of State to submit a report detailing the number of persons detained in re-education camps, the conditions in those camps, and the surveillance methods used by authorities in the region

The Senate version of the bill, S. 178, was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). They were joined by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Steve Daines (R-MT),  Chris Coons (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Ed Markey (D-MA). 

“The Trump administration needs to finally develop a coherent strategy for China that reflects our nation’s values, especially given the horrific and ongoing human rights abuses committed against China’s Uighur Minority,” said Senator Menendez. “I am proud to help lead this important effort so we don’t abandon our values and simply turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labor camps by an autocratic Chinese regime.”

The House version of the bill, H.R. 649, was introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Thomas Suozzi (D-NY). Joining him were Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Joe Kennedy (D-MA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).

“This is now one of the world’s most pressing human rights challenges,” said Representative Smith. “The Chinese government is engaged in an appalling campaign to forcibly assimilate and destroy the religion and culture of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims””we cannot be silent when such atrocities occur. There must be a coordinated and bipartisan response, from the U.S. and the international community, that will hold Chinese officials and businesses accountable for their egregious abuses.”

In 2015 and 2017, CAIR sent letters directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping responding to reports of Muslims being denied the freedom to fast during Ramadan and the confiscation of Qurans and other religious items, respectively.

On September 10, CAIR called for international action in defense of religious freedom following a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) detailing the “mass, systematic campaign of human rights violations against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang in northwestern China.” The report revealed that up to 1 million Uyghur Muslims are being held in reeducation centers where they are forced to listen to lectures, sing songs praising the Communist party and abandon from their faith. Some accounts tell of inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, forbidden activities in Islam.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com

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