U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that she supported legislation that seeks accountability for China’s harsh crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs that has landed some 1.5 million residents of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in internment camps.
The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which requires endorsement by the full U.S. Senate and ratification by the House of Representatives, would appoint a special State Department coordinator on Xinjiang and require regular reports on the camps, the surveillance network and the security threats posed by the crackdown. It cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 22.
“I don’t know what the status is right now, but we’re moving in a positive direction,” Pelosi told RFA’s Uyghur Service on Tuesday on the sidelines of a congressional event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre.
Passage of the bill is “what we’re working for, because it’s a grave injustice,” she added.
Up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017. Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets has shown that those in the camps routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions.
“It’s very sad and I call upon the rest of the world to speak out (over) the arrest of the Muslim people in China,” said Pelosi.
“What they’re doing to the Uyghurs is outside the circle of civilized human behavior to have millions of people in prison for what they believe.”
The bill provides a catalog of documented mistreatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims that precedes the detention camps.
The legislation requires U.S. intelligence agencies to report to Congress on the “regional security threat posed by the crackdown and the frequency with which Central Asian countries are forcibly returning Turkic Muslim refugees and asylum seekers,” as well as a list of Chinese companies involved in building and running the camps.