The Chinese government’s systematic persecution of Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is undeniable.
Speaking at a side event at the United Nations, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said, “The Chinese government has detained more than one million individuals in internment camps in Xinjiang since April 2017.” Deputy Secretary Sullivan cited reports of egregious abuses in these camps:
”We have received credible reports of deaths, forced labor,
torture, and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment in these camps. Additionally, there are many reports that the Chinese government forces detainees to renounce their ethnic identities as well as their culture and religion. One can be detained for simply possessing books on religion and Uighur culture, reciting the Quran at a funeral or even wearing clothing with the Muslim crescent.”
China’s repressive campaign against the Uighurs extends far beyond the camps, said Deputy Secretary Sullivan. “Xinjiang is subject to pervasive, arbitrary high-tech surveillance and involuntary collection of personal data, including DNA samples.” These techniques are being used throughout China and are even being exported to other countries, said Deputy Secretary Sullivan:
“They are a core focus of China’s campaign to suppress human rights and fundamental freedoms, not just in their country, but increasingly around the world. It is nothing short of Orwellian.”
In Xinjiang, said Deputy Secretary Sullivan, “The Chinese government prevents Muslims from praying and reading the Quran, and it has destroyed or defaced a great number of mosques. Men’s beards are forcibly shaved. Women’s hijabs are removed, and they are required to dress in ways they consider immodest. Muslims are forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. The Chinese Communist Party outlawed the observances of Ramadan five years ago.”
“The UN and its member states,” said Deputy Secretary Sullivan, “have a singular responsibility to speak up when survivor after survivor recount the horrors of state repression.”
The United States calls on the UN to uphold its own values and to seek the immediate, unhindered, and unmonitored access to Xinjiang for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“History will judge the international community for how we respond to this attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms,” warned Deputy Secretary Sullivan. “Together we must seek to understand the truth and act on it.”