How the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Became Law, Parts 4 and 5

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June 22, 2022

Uyghur groups, including the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and the Uyghur American Association, organized dozens of online meetings between congressional staff and Uyghurs living in the United States. Louisa Greve, director of global advocacy at UHRP, helped prepare people for the calls and participated in many of them. She was struck by how offices with widely different views on most political matters were unified about backing this bill.

“I remember thinking, wow. There’s really no difference between Republicans and Democrats,” she says.

But what stands out to her most in hindsight were staff members’ reactions to the Uyghurs’ stories of suffering. She says Hill staffers were overwhelmingly interested in helping. Advocates were able to track the support they were winning as they watched the bills’ cosponsors grow.

“It was a huge source of hope every time there was a new cosponsor, because it was one step closer to having the American market not be complicit in these atrocity crimes,” Greve says.

Greve says the lesson for human rights advocates, as they attempt to win support for similar action in other countries, is persistence. 

“It was terribly disappointing to see no action on a bill that was clearly the will of Congress,” Greve says.

When people ask Nury Turkel what the biggest obstacle in Washington, D.C., to his human rights efforts is today, he has a simple answer: environmental activists.

“They try to save the planet and care less about the real human being,” Turkel says. “We can fight genocide and ecocide at the same time.”

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