World, Americas

US lawmakers announce creation of congressional Uyghur Caucus

Caucus to shine light on 'systemic human rights violations against the Uyghur people,' say bipartisan pair of congressmen

Michael Hernandez   | 29.07.2021
US lawmakers announce creation of congressional Uyghur Caucus FILE PHOTO

WASHINGTON

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers announced Thursday the creation of a congressional caucus to address China's ongoing human rights abuses against its Muslim minority Uyghur population.

Congressmen Tom Suozzi and Chris Smith said the caucus will shine light on the "systemic human rights violations against the Uyghur people" and work on enacting legislation "addressing the largest coordinated human rights abuse campaign of the 21st century."

“The ongoing genocide and mass internment of Uyghurs and other predominantly-Muslim ethnic minorities like the Kazakhs are egregious crimes perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party,” Smith said in a statement. "The United States cannot be silent as [Chinese President] Xi Jinping tortures and seeks to eradicate an entire population."

The US, under former President Donald Trump, determined China is committing genocide against Xinjiang’s minority Muslim Uyghur population, and that determination has continued under US President Joe Biden's administration.

Xinjiang is home to 10 million Uyghurs.

The Chinese government has routinely denied the existence of concentration camps despite there being sweeping evidence to the contrary. Up to 1 million Uyghur Muslims are believed to be detained in the facilities.

Beijing claims the sites are "re-education centers," which it claims are built to reform the local population and teach new skills. Survivors and former detainees, however, have spoken of brutal and inhumane acts of torture, both physical and psychological, including forced sterilizations of female Uyghurs, rape and the forced erasure of religious identity.

Rushan Abbas, the executive director of the Campaign for Uyghurs nonprofit who campaigned for the formation of the congressional Uyghur Caucus, said it is a "cause for celebration and recognition as the Chinese Communist Party is targeting to eliminate the Uyghurs with China’s genocide while trying to demolish the democracy and freedom around the world."

“I am incredibly grateful for this development in the United States Congress, a true signal that the Uyghur cause is entering the mainstream," he said.

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