Scott Busby, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State, recently spoke with RFA’s Uyghur Service about persecution under Chinese rule in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where authorities have held an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in a network of political “re-education camps” since April 2017.
During an interview with Mamatjan Juma at the State Department in Washington, Busby discussed inconsistencies in the way China has represented the camp system, what the U.S. has done to raise awareness of the situation in the XUAR, and why other countries have failed to speak out against or even defended China’s policies in the region. He also pledged continued U.S. support for the Uyghurs, saying that Washington will exert pressure on China for as long as people are being detained in the camps because of their ethnic background, and religious and cultural traditions.
RFA: What kind of concrete action has been taken to close [the camps] or release the detainees from the camps in China?
Busby: One of the things we’ve spent a lot of time on is trying to get the word out about what’s happening in Xinjiang. We have been sharing information with many other governments around the world, we’ve been doing public events talking about Xinjiang. We hosted—along with several other governments—a side event in Geneva, Switzerland on the margins of the U.N. Human Rights Council specifically devoted to the issue of the abuses taking place in Xinjiang … Secretary Pompeo, as you know, has met with several Uyghur individuals to hear about their experiences or the experience of their loved ones in the camps. So we have been focused, primarily to date, on getting the word out about the situation in Xinjiang, and I think the world now knows how horrible the situation is. There are other measures that we’re considering, but I can’t get into the details of the internal deliberations of the U.S. government at this point.