US Holocaust Museum reaffirms China’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang

It recommends the U.S. government and other countries do more to stop the atrocities.
By Roseanne Gerin
2021.11.09
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US Holocaust Museum reaffirms China’s crimes against humanity in Xinjiang Police officers watch Uyghur Muslims as they leave the Id Kah Mosque after morning prayers on Eid al-Fitr in the old town of Kashgar in northwestern China's Xinjiang region, June 26, 2017.
AFP

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum said Tuesday that it is “gravely concerned” that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is committing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region.

In a 60-page report, titled “To Make Us Slowly Disappear: The Chinese Government’s Assault on the Uyghurs,” confirms an earlier allegation made by the museum that China is committing crimes against humanity in its targeted persecution of Muslims living within its borders.

“We have stated previously and reaffirmed today that crimes against humanity are being committed with impunity by the Chinese government,” said Naomi Kikoler, director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide, a research arm within the museum, during a videoconference to accompany the report’s release.

The museum in Washington, D.C., describes itself as the official U.S. memorial to the millions of Jews killed during the Nazi’s reign in Germany during World War II. Part of its publicly and privately funded mission is to identify other crimes against humanity and to work to stop them.

The report analyzes additional information that has come to light concerning the treatment of Uyghurs since the museum’s March 2020 announcement that there was a reasonable basis to believe that the CCP had committed crimes against humanity in its harsh treatment of Uyghurs.

“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is gravely concerned that the Chinese government may be committing genocide against the Uyghurs,” the report says. “The Chinese government is failing in its legal obligation to prevent this crime. The seriousness of the assault on the Uyghur population demands the immediate response of the international community to protect the victims.”

The report details the Chinese government’s campaign against the Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities. The allegations it points to include forced labor, mass incarceration, the repression of religious and cultural expression, sexual violence against women, forced sterilization and other birth prevention measures, and the transfer of Uyghur children from their families to boarding schools without the consent of their parents.

“There is also clear evidence, much of it coming from leaked Chinese government documents, that the aforementioned actions against the Uyghurs are committed in accordance with government policy,” said the report, which adds to a growing number of witness testimonies, statements and other studies detailing the plight of the Uyghurs.

The report was welcomed by those pressing for a more robust international response to the plight of the 12 million Uyghurs.

"Here in these pages we can see laid bare the threat facing our people: total destruction," said Rushan Abbas, the executive director of the Campaign for Uyghurs, a Washington-based advocacy group.

"It is encouraging to see such experts in the field of ethnic cleansing and genocide dedicate their time and effort to documenting one of modern history’s worst crimes," she added in a statement.

The U.S. in January said that it determined that the Chinese government was committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghurs. Parliaments in Canada, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Belgium, and the United Kingdom passed motions that reached the same conclusion or stated genocide was a serious risk in the region.

Additionally, the U.S. Commerce Department placed dozens of Chinese entities implicated in crimes in Xinjiang on its “Entity List,” which prevents American companies from exporting technology goods and services to the parties.

U.S. lawmakers passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in June 2020, requiring the tracking of and reporting of human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in Xinjiang and the imposition of sanctions on individuals participating in their persecution.

The U.S. Senate also passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in July 2021, which would ban the import of goods from Xinjiang unless importers could certify that the items were not manufactured with forced labor.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, called China’s actions “a campaign to totally erase from the earth the culture, identity, religion, and the lives of a distinct community of people.”

“This is crimes against humanity,” he said in prerecorded remarks delivered during the videoconference. “The State Department calls it a genocide. Whatever the label, our morality and our law demand that we act.”

The report says that the U.S. and other countries have not done enough to stop the campaign against the Uyghurs. It calls on the Chinese government to allow an investigation by an independent and impartial group into their treatment.

And it recommends that the U.S. State Department take further action, including an effort to broaden a coalition of governments dedicated to stopping the atrocities. That would include releasing the information it relied on to make its determination that the treatment of Uyghurs amounted to an act of genocide.

The U.S. director of national intelligence should work with the State Department to examine whether any of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects use forced labor, the report states.

Other countries should coordinate a sanctions strategy, establish a joint monitoring mechanism to ensure that BRI projects comply with international labor standards, and ensure the protection of Uyghur refugees, the report states.

The Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a systematic campaign to erase the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang,” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, former co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in prerecorded remarks played during the videoconference.

“Silence is not an option,” he said. “We must raise our voices, rally governments and corporations alike, and stop this ongoing genocide.”

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