Hundreds gathered in Washington over the weekend urging the Trump administration to sanction those responsible for human rights violations in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), amid increasing calls for action against Beijing from the international community.
Uyghur exile leaders were joined by members of international rights groups and exiled Chinese dissidents in leading the Uyghur Freedom March on Saturday, demanding that the government take steps to punish XUAR Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo and other officials targeting Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities with repressive policies in the region.
“We must move beyond words to concrete action before it is too late,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress.
“The U.S. should set an example by using the Global Magnitsky Act to apply targeted sanctions to culpable officials as a matter of priority. The Congress must act by passing the pending human rights bills.”
Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project director Omer Kanat also called on lawmakers to level sanctions against Chinese officials in the XUAR as soon as possible.
“American citizens of conscience are expecting our Congress to act—we must urgently appeal to our representatives in Congress to act without further delay,” he said.
Several U.S. lawmakers also sent letters of support of proposed sanctions, which were read to those gathered for the rally on Saturday.
“What is happening to Uyghurs in China today is unconscionable,” said Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey. “It should be treated and declared as a crime against humanity.”
“We must all continue to speak with one voice on this issue,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. “The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of internment and surveillance cannot be tolerated in the 21st century.”