Today, Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) announced the creation of the Congressional Uyghur Caucus. The Caucus will raise awareness of the Chinese Community Party’s (CCP) systemic human rights violations against the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China and support legislation aimed at addressing the largest coordinated human rights abuse campaign of the 21st century.
“Put simply, we’re talking about the largest coordinated human rights abuse campaign of the 21st century being perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rep. Suozzi. “Not only as Members of Congress but as human beings we have a responsibility to uphold the values of fundamental human dignity and religious freedom abroad.
“The ongoing genocide and mass internment of Uyghurs and other predominantly-Muslim ethnic minorities like the Kazakhs are egregious crimes perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rep. Smith. “The United States cannot be silent as Xi Jinping tortures and seeks to eradicate an entire population. In solidarity with the oppressed, the Uyghur Caucus will call attention to the Communist Chinese government’s atrocious human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and work to end one of the world’s worst human rights tragedies.”
“The creation of the Uyghur Caucus is cause for celebration and recognition as the Chinese Communist Party is targeting to eliminate the Uyghurs with China’s genocide while trying to demolish the democracy and freedom around the world,” said Rushan Abbas, Executive Director, Campaign for Uyghurs. “I am incredibly grateful for this development in the United States Congress, a true signal that the Uyghur cause is entering the mainstream. When we approached Congressman Suozzi with the idea of establishing the Uyghur caucus in the US Congress, we knew we were speaking to a champion for Uyghur human rights, and we are so thankful to him for spearheading this important initiative alongside the renowned Congressman Chris Smith. We hope that the world sees this caucus as an example to follow within their own nations to build coalitions and to end this genocide.”
(L-R CFU Public Affairs & Advocacy Director Julie Millsap, CFU Executive Director Rushan Abbas, CFU Senior Advisor Dr. Rishat Abbas, Mr. Abdulhakim Idris, Executive Director of Center for Uyghur Studies, Michael Christesen, & Congressman Tom Suozzi)
The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking, majority-Muslim ethnic group primarily from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwestern China. In less than a decade, the CCP has forcibly detained over a million Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Contrary to the Chinese government claims that these detention facilities are for “reeducation” or “poverty alleviation” programs, independent reports and testimonials from detainees show a systematic effort to erase Uyghur people and culture through forced labor, sexual abuse, forced sterilization, and attacks on religious beliefs. Recent analysis of satellite data from RAND, a nonpartisan think tank, shows that the CCP is expanding its prison camps.
Congress, through the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and the Congressional committees of jurisdiction, has taken important first steps to address these abuses by supporting legislation such as the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, but there is still much to do. While momentum is moving in the right direction, the Caucus will use its platform to make sure the American people and the world community are aware of what is happening in Xinjiang and highlight the importance of Congressional action and accountability.