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PRESS RELEASE: Hope for Uyghurs as Uyghur Human Rights Act Signed Into Law

PRESS RELEASE: Hope for Uyghurs as Uyghur Human Rights Act Signed Into Law

Press Release – For immediate release
17 June 2020
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
+49 89 5432 1999 or
 [email protected]

Today marks a vital step for the Uyghur people and international efforts to stop the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity in East Turkistan, as the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act has been signed into law. The passing of this Act constitutes the first legislative initiative to take concrete action to end the Uyghur crisis and hold those responsible for atrocities accountable. It shows a real commitment to ending the suffering of the Uyghur people.

The WUC would like to thank the US Government for passing this important piece of legislation. The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act was passed by the Senate, the House of Representatives and the President of the United States in a matter of weeks, showing the increasing attention and momentum to easing the suffering of the Uyghur people. In particular, the WUC would like to thank Representative McGovern and Senator Rubio for introducing the Act and all of the Senators and Representatives who have been working tirelessly to address the Uyghur crisis.

Passing the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act finally moves the approach to the crisis in East Turkistan beyond mere rhetoric, to taking concrete action to stop the crisis. While the WUC has deeply appreciated the support and voices of governments and international organisations around the world, the situation in East Turkistan has continued to deteriorate. Despite admonishments and expressions of concern, the CCP has continued to disappear more and more Uyghurs into internment camps and forced labour facilities, to strip away the very last of their rights and to undermine Uyghur culture, language, religion and identity without any material consequences. Moving beyond rhetoric to taking real and meaningful action is essential to bringing an end to the Uyghur crisis.

The act continues a number of important provisions that we urge the US government to implement without delay.

Most importantly, the Act calls on the Secretary of State and other relevant authorities to strategically employ targeted sanctions and other tools to target those responsible for severe violations against religious freedom, use of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, prolonged detention without charges or trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons and other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons. It suggests using asset blocking, ineligibility for visas or admission to the US and other penalties for those responsible for gross human rights abuses.

The Act also contains some important measures to combat the use of Uyghur forced labour. It calls for US companies to be held accountable and to take measures to ensure that their commercial activities are not contributing to human rights violations in East Turkistan or elsewhere in China and that their supply chains are not compromised by forced labor.

Crucially, it advocates for greater protection and support for the Uyghur diaspora community in the US. It calls on the Federal Bureau of Investigation and appropriate United States law enforcement agencies to take steps to hold accountable officials from the People’s Republic of China or individuals acting on their behalf who harass, threaten, or intimidate persons within the United States and calls for the US to expand the capacity and availability of the Uyghur language service for Radio Free Asia.

Finally, the Act calls for the United States policy towards the People’s Republic of China to be explicitly linked to the situation in East Turkistan. This would put human rights and the Uyghur crisis at the forefront of the US’s engagement with the Chinese government and take steps to ensure that human lives are not put secondary to trade or economic concerns.

“We are deeply grateful to the US government for passing this important act,” said WUC President Dolkun Isa, “If we are to ease the suffering of the Uyghur people, we must move beyond words of sympathy and support, to targeted and meaningful action. I urge other governments around the world to pass similar pieces to legislation to let the Chinese government know that the world will not sit idly by while it commits crimes against humanity.

The WUC hopes the Act stands as an example to governments around the world of the type of proactive and substantive measures necessary to bring an end to the atrocities being committed by the Chinese government in East Turkistan. We must build on the momentum generated by the passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act and call on parliamentarians around the world to pass similar legislative initiatives in their own national contexts.

On behalf of the WUC and the Uyghur community, we would again like to give our thanks to all the US officials responsible for the passing of this important act. It calls on the President of the US to condemn the Chinese government abuses against Uyghurs and others, call for the camps to immediately be closed and to call on the Chinese government to allow Uyghurs in East Turkistan to reestablish contact with the diaspora.