April 6, 2019
Good afternoon and thanks to all of you for the invitation to join you today. Although I am unable to be with you in person, I want you to know that I am with you in spirit and I stand in solidarity with your struggle on behalf of the rights and freedom of the Uyghur people.
That is why I was an original cosponsor of both bills that you are here to support: The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (H.R. 649 and S. 178) and the Uighur Intervention and Global Humanitarian Unified Response (UIGHUR) Act of 2019 (H.R. 1025).
For too long the U.S. government has talked the talk but not walked the walk when it comes to countering China’s repression of Uyghur rights. We need to go beyond words; we need to make sure there are consequences for China’s repression of the Uyghur people. These bills are an important step in that direction and we need to work together to make sure they both pass. Please take that message to your Member of Congress and tell your friends to tell their Members of Congress – Congress must act! These bills must become law!
We have known for a long time that the Uyghurs in China suffer at the hands of the Chinese authorities. We have known about the restrictions imposed on the use of the Uyghur language and on religious practices including the training of Muslim clerics, the celebration of Ramadan, the use of veils and the growing of beards. We have known how hard it is for Uyghurs to get passports and we have seen the reports of the forced repatriation of Uyghurs living outside of China. All of these policies violate the basic human rights of the Uyghur people.
But in the last couple of years the Chinese have doubled down in a whole new way using cutting-edge surveillance technology and mass so-called “re-education” camps to try to stamp out Uyghur identity. People rightly fear what could come next. And that is why we are all here today.
So let’s get going, let’s pass these bills, let’s end the persecution of Uyghurs and let’s all say to China: great countries are rights-respecting countries. Great countries do not fear or trample on ethnic minorities. Great countries do not put massive numbers of people in camps or cages or behind bars. Great countries let their peoples speak their language, practice their faith and live their lives. Until the Uyghurs have the right to live their lives as they choose, China will not be a great country.
Rep. James P. McGovern
April 6, 2019
Thank you to the Uyghur Human Rights Project for organizing this rally to highlight and condemn the internment of over a million or more Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in political education camps in China
What is happing to Uyghurs in China today is unconscionable – it should be treated and declared as a crime against humanity. Human rights leaders here in the U.S. and around the globe cannot be silent when the Chinese government is constructing a high-tech police state whose goal is the forced assimilation of Uyghurs and the “sinicization” of religious beliefs and culture. Such acts cannot be tolerated and should be unconditionally condemned by the international community.
I commend Vice President Pence and Secretary Pompeo for speaking out forcefully against human rights abuses in China – it is an important first step. In a letter sent this week, Senator Rubio and I and 41 Members of the House and Senate – asked the Administration to take the next step and impose Global Magnitsky sanctions on Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and other Chinese government officials complicit in gross human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs.
The letter also urges the Secretary of Commerce to strengthen export controls to ensure that U.S. companies are not assisting in the creation of the vast civilian surveillance or big-data predictive policing systems used in Xinjiang.
As a Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Ranking Member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and this year as Co-Chair of the Lantos Human Rights Commission, I promise to continue working with you to shine a light on egregious abuses of human rights, particularly those targeting Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in China. I have re-introduced the bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act with Congressman Tom Suozzi of New York, which will, among other things, create a Special Coordinator position at the State Department on Uyghur issues and require the State Department and the FBI to protect Uyghurs and other Americans from intimidation or harassment by Chinese government agents here on American soil.
I commend you all for giving voiceless Uyghurs in China a voice here in Washington,
D.C. You will be heard. But we must all continue to keep pressing for action and keep shining a bright light on horrific abuses occurring in China.
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH
Member of Congress
April 6, 2019
Congressman Tom Suozzi stands with the Uyghurs! He has sponsored legislation to help shed light on the persecution of the Uyghurs and he will continue to speak out on their behalf.
Congressman Suozzi says “The Chinese government’s authoritarian state uses re-education camps and surveillance methods that it pioneered in Tibet to target Uyghurs in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has created a surveillance state unlike anything the world has seen.
The Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to destroy the cultural and religious identities of ethnic minorities requires more than just words of condemnation, it requires U.S. leadership and action.
I am proud to be part of a legislative body that advocates for the Uyghurs, and for human rights and the rule of law in China. I, along with Representative Smith, and Senators Rubio and Menendez, am leading The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, to hold accountable Chinese officials and businesses responsible for heinous human rights abuses. I am proud to say that Speaker Pelosi has cosponsored this legislation. I will fight for the Uyghurs. The United States’ strength is in our values, and our policies should not be separated from them. We must not lose hope and we must continue to fight for the good of humanity. Thank you for your activism and commitment today, and I wish you all the best and offer you my support in your continued efforts to free the Uyghurs.”