Statement of Congressman Chris Smith – April 6, 2019, Uyghur Freedom Rally
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