U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday calling for the release of over a million ethnic Uyghurs detained by China in re-education camps and urging Washington to study the scope of Beijing’s crackdown on the Muslim minority group.
In a press release announcing the launch of the bipartisan bill, in which Republican Representative Chris Smith was joined by Democrat Thomas Suozzi and eight other members of Congress, Smith said the internment of Uyghurs in camps in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region “should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity.”
“The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century,” said Smith, co-chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China.
“The brutal, religious based persecution of the Uyghurs in China is alarming,” Congressman Suozzi added in prepared remarks on Wednesday. “Xinjiang province has become nothing short of a police state.”
Among other recommendations, the proposed legislation calls on the U.S. Secretary of State to create a special position at the State Department to coordinate the U.S. response to China’s abuses in Xinjiang and to sanction Chinese officials responsible for the crackdown.