UHRP Welcomes Congressional Action on the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019

For immediate release

October 30, 2019 3:35 pm EST

Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) +1 (202) 478 1920

UHRP applauds the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s unanimous passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. As the Committee marked up the bill today, Members on both sides of the aisle forcefully condemned the Chinese government’s “horrific” and “barbaric” human rights crimes against the Uyghur people.

UHRP warmly thanks Representatives Eliot Engel, Michael McCaul, Brad Sherman, Chris Smith, Steve Chabot, Ted Deutch, Ted Yoho, and Susan Wild for their uncompromising remarks.

The Committee amended the Senate bill to add sanctions and export restrictions to “ensure that U.S. technology supply chains do not help build China's oppressive surveillance programs and systems across the globe,” as Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) noted in their opening remarks. The amended bill updates export controls to identify and exclude items that “suppress individual privacy, freedom of movement, and other basic human rights,” through surveillance and identification of individuals through facial recognition, voice recognition, or biometric indicators. 

Representative Chris Smith noted that the bill is important because “we're talking about concentration camps. The surveillance at all levels of [Uyghurs’] lives is unconscionable and it's reminiscent of what the Nazis did, in terms of rounding people up, torturing them, and putting them into forced labor.” He continued, “more has to be done to combat this. The bill is a comprehensive approach to try to end this egregious behavior on the part of the Chinese government." 

This Congressional action builds upon the momentum of actions taken by the executive branch earlier this month, including the October 7 placement of 28 Chinese tech companies and police agencies complicit in human rights violations in East Turkestan on the Entities List, placing visa restrictions on officials responsible for the ongoing crisis, and issuing a withhold release order on products suspected of being made with forced labor.

UHRP Director Omer Kanat commented, “The House action on this bill today sends a strong message that all branches of the US government are taking action to counter the human rights abuses taking place in East Turkestan.”

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