China’s anti-Muslim religious repression in East Turkistan documented in State Department Report

For immediate release
June 12, 2020 4:40 pm EDT
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) +1 (202) 790-1795, (703) 217-7266

The U.S. State Department’s 2019 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom documents the Chinese government’s ongoing human rights abuses against Uyghurs and others in East Turkistan due to their Islamic faith, featured in a separate section due to the severity of the abuses. 

The report cites UHRP’s reporting on 435 detained and disappeared Uyghur intellectuals and the systematic desecration and demolition of more than 100 historic and significant mosques across East Turkistan. 

“The record is clear. China is carrying out an all-out war on Islam in East Turkistan,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat in a statement.  

Throughout 2019, multilateral forums called on the government of China to end attacks on Islam and egregious religious repression of Muslims. At the 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, a joint statement by five governments expressed “deep alarm” over “the highly repressive campaign against Muslims, including Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim” groups.   

At the 41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 22 governments issued a joint statement on the Uyghur crisis, citing the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and numerous UN human rights Special Mandate holders.  

At the UN General Assembly in October, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States cosponsored a side event featuring the testimony of Uyghur concentration camp survivor Zumrat Dawut. In a historic first, four Uyghurs attended the General Assembly Opening, at the invitation of the U.S. UN Mission, to bear witness with other survivors of religious persecution, including Mr. Nury Turkel, UHRP Board Chair and current Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. 

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback highlighted the repression of the Uyghurs in forums from Poland to Taiwan, including a joint op-ed with Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales, stating that “Beijing is painting its human rights violations as a legitimate counterterrorism effort, when they patently are not.” In November of 2019, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said “[w]e call on the Chinese government to immediately release all those who are arbitrarily detained and to end its draconian policies that have terrorized its own citizens in Xinjiang.”