House Panel Holds Hearing on Atrocities Committed by China Against Uyghur Minorities
Should U.S. companies boycott China over the atrocities against Uyghurs?
What’s the story?
- The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday held a hearing on the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region. The U.S. declared the persecution a genocide during the Trump administration in January, and Biden administration Secretary of State Antony Blinken has agreed with that designation.
- The witness list for the hearing included a survivor of the CCP’s concentration camps, along with an activist for Uyghur rights and an international affairs scholar. Nury Turkel of the Uyghur Human Rights Project testified:
“The Chinese state has spent the last four years crushing our culture, language, civilizational accomplishment in poetry, literature, the arts and theology, architecture and scholarship. The Uyghur imams, religious scholars, university presidents, professors and teachers, successful business owners, entrepreneurs, they have all been swept en masse into the modern day industrial scale concentration camps.”
- Tursunay Ziyawudun, who experienced torture and sexual violence in the CCP’s concentration camps, testified that her time in detention left “an unforgettable scar on my heart” and recounted disturbing details about her experience:
“Girls would be taken away and only brought back days later… and then I, myself, was taken [along with another woman]. I was tortured with an electric stick pushed inside my genital tract. I could hear the other woman’s screams in the next room. I knew the guards were raping her. After that, she never stopped crying.”
- Witnesses urged the U.S. government to enact the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act, which companies including Disney, Nike, and Coca-Cola lobbied against at the end of the last Congress.
- Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) criticized those companies for doing business with the CCP:
“We cannot put profits ahead of doing what’s right. The true nature of these Faustian deals need to come to light so consumers begin to know where their money is going.”
- The G7 nations ― a group which includes the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan ― on Wednesday issued a joint statement expressing it was “deeply concerned” about the persecution in Xinjiang and also in Tibet, and called on the CCP to end restrictions on pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong.
- Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, responded on Thursday by accusing the G7 of pushing “unfounded accusations against China” and told them “to face up to their own problems.”
- Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) criticized the CCP’s response in the hearing:
“Instead of working with the international community to investigate these atrocities and bring an end to the genocide, the Chinese government has endorsed an attitude of deflection and disinformation.”
What is China doing to Muslim minorities in Xinjiang?
- Human rights experts say that between 800,000 to 2 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been detained indefinitely in reeducation camps since 2017 because the Chinese Communist Party views them as a potential extremist or separatist threat in the Xinjiang region of western China.
- Detainees are interned without due process in the camps, where they are subjected to communist propaganda, forced to renounce Islam, and in some cases are beaten and tortured. Detainees are forced to demonstrate sufficient political loyalty to be released.
- Uyghur detainees are also used as forced labor, which several notable multinational companies have been associated with. In July 2020, U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized a 13-ton shipment of hair weaves & beauty accessories shipped from China that was suspected to have been made from human hair taken from Uyghurs in a concentration camp.
- Outside of the Xinjiang internment camps, there is political and cultural indoctrination occurring in schools and authorities using the compulsory collection of biometric data (like DNA & voice samples), artificial intelligence, big data, and movement restrictions to control the population.
- Uyghur women are subjected to pregnancy checks, and forced abortions and sterilizations have been performed on many. Those who have too many children are sent to detention camps unless they can pay substantial fines.
- The Chinese Communist Party restricts the use of the Uyghur language and has demolished Uyghur graveyards and shrines. There have also been credible reports of extrajudicial mass killings.
- Abroad, the Chinese Communist Party has threatened & harassed Uyghurs & ethnic Muslim minorities who’ve moved overseas, and in some cases have sought to forcibly repatriate them to China. At least five journalists working for Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur service detailed abuses against their family members in Xinjiang because of their work exposing the Chinese Communist Party’s abuses.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Uyghur Concentration Camp: Radio Free Asia / Fair Use)
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