Smith Introduces Legislation Condemning Abuses Against Uyghurs in China, Calling for Accountability

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Washington, Nov 14, 2018 | Matt Hadro ((202) 225-3765)

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, today introduced bipartisan legislationcondemning the internment of over a million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and calling for an end to arbitrary detention, torture, and forced renunciation of faith occurring in the region. Smith was joined on the legislation by lead Democratic cosponsor Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) and eight other Members of Congress.  

“The internment of over a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in China is a staggering evil and should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity,” said Smith. “The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century. This legislation gives the Administration the tools to take a firm stand against Beijing’s plans to erase the religious identity, culture, and language of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western province. As a start, Chinese government officials should be held accountable for their complicity in gross violations of human rights and U.S. businesses should be barred from helping China create a high-tech police state in Xinjiang province.”  

“The brutal, religious based persecution of the Uyghurs in China is alarming. Xinjiang province has become nothing short of a police state,” said Congressman Suozzi. “We must take a stand against the violation of human rights and show the Chinese government that this is unacceptable. This bicameral, bipartisan bill is an important step in shedding light on the plight of the Uyghurs, and provides concrete policy options to address this abhorrent situation.”

Among other actions, the legislation:

  • Condemns human rights violations in the region, including the arbitrary detention of up to one million Uyghurs
  • Calls for the immediate closure of internment camps in Xinjiang
  • Calls on the Secretary of State to consider a special position at the State Department—the United States Special Coordinator for Xinjiang—to coordinate the U.S. response to abuses in the region, and to consider applicable targeted sanctions for individual human rights abusers in the Chinese government, Chinese Communist Party, and state security apparatus
  • Calls for a regional security assessment by the Director of National intelligence, in coordination with the Secretary of State, on the effect of the crackdown
  • Calls for an FBI report to provide information on the harassment and intimidation experienced by ethnic Uyghurs and Chinese nationals studying or working temporarily in the U.S. by Chinese officials;
  • Calls on the Secretary of State to submit an interagency report assessing the number of persons detained in re-education camps, the conditions in those camps, the number of those arbitrarily detained, the situation of press freedom and the gross violations of other universally recognized rights, and repressive surveillance methods used by authorities in the region.

Additional original cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), and Jim McGovern (D-MA). The bill is the House analogue to a Senate bill introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

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