China’s Cross-Border Campaign to Terrorize Uyghur Americans

Uyghurs protest at Freedom Plaza

By Omer Kanat
August 29, 2019

“I wear a hat, get glasses, I cover my face. I’m in a free country but when I go to my people’s office, I cover my face. I didn’t even cover my face in China, but I cover my face here.” These are the words of a Uyghur, resident in the United States, earlier this year. The man, a carpenter back in his hometown, told Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) researchers he was scared he would be noticed by the Chinese authorities when visiting our office in Washington, DC.

A new UHRP report, “Repression Across Borders,” documents how the Chinese government routinely carries out surveillance, threats and coercion on American soil to control the speech and actions of the estimated 1,500 to 5,000 Uyghur people living in the United States. This is an ambitious and well-resourced campaign affecting all Uyghur Americans, especially the many brave journalistsactivists, and students engaged in raising awareness about the crisis of repression in their homeland.

The intimidation campaign constitutes an ongoing series of crimes committed with impunity on U.S. persons. It is illegal under U.S. federal and state law to issue threats that interfere with free-speech rights. For the Uyghur American community, the enduring and menacing presence of the Chinese government in their daily lives deprives them of their constitutionally protected rights and freedoms.