Nearly 20 U.S. lawmakers have penned a letter to Washington’s top diplomat and Treasury Secretary, urging them to level sanctions against officials and entities in China deemed responsible for abusing the rights of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in political “re-education camps” throughout the XUAR, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.
In a letter dated Aug. 28, and obtained by RFA’s Uyghur Service on Wednesday, Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith—co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)—and 15 other bipartisan lawmakers wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin raising concerns over what they called a “human rights crisis” in the XUAR.
“Muslim ethnic minorities [in the XUAR] are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored,” the letter said.
“Given the gravity of the situation, and the severity and scope of the rights abuses being perpetrated, we urge you to apply Global Magnitsky sanctions, and consider additional measures, against senior Chinese Government and Communist Party officials who oversee these repressive policies.”
The lawmakers identified for sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act Communist Party secretary Chen Quanguo, who has implemented a litany of harsh policies attacking the rights and freedoms of ethnic Uyghur Muslim residents of the XUAR since he was appointed to run the region in August 2016.