On World Refugee Day 2021, UHRP Calls for Protections for Uyghur Refugees to be Instituted Globally

Weaponized Passports

June 20, 2021, 6:00 a.m. EDT
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906 7722

As the world recognizes World Refugee Day, the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) wants to once again raise the plight of Uyghurs who have been forced to seek asylum overseas due to the actions of the Chinese government.

“For years UHRP has been raising the alarm about the increasingly precarious situation of Uyghur refugees around the world,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. “Aiding these people is something democratic governments can do  immediately to help Uyghurs.”

Governments in concerned nations have the ability to institute policies which will have an immediate positive impact on vulnerable Uyghurs living abroad, unable to return home. The entire Uyghur diaspora is being subjected to particularly aggressive transnational repression by the Chinese government. These Uyghurs are relentlessly pursued by the Chinese government, who seek to force them to return, where they will be subjected to extrajudicial imprisonment in the vast network of concentration camps set up in the Uyghur homeland. 

In order to protect these Uyghurs and avert the statelessness crisis which threatens the Uyghur diaspora, governments should recognize that they are at particular risk of deportation. The US Congress is currently considering legislation which will designate Uyghurs as “Priority 2” refugees, allowing them to apply directly to the United States for resettlement. Other nations should consider similar policies. UHRP’s recommendations to the US government at a US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) hearing earlier this year could be adapted by other governments. These include:

  1. Expediting the cases of Uyghur asylum seekers already in the application process.
  2. Creating a proactive resettlement program for Uyghurs in countries where they are under the threat of deportation.
  3. Ensure that lack of documentation is not a barrier for Uyghur asylum seekers.
  4. Push back on Chinese government  harassment, intimidation, threats, pressure to spy against the Uyghur community.
  5. Work with other nations to take similar measures and prevent deportation of Uyghurs to China. 

Read more:

On World Refugee Day, UHRP Urges UNHCR to Address Looming Uyghur Statelessness– June 19, 2020

UHRP welcomes bill to provide Uyghurs safe haven, March 9, 2021

UHRP statement on issues facing Uyghur refugees to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Feb 8, 2021

UHRP REPORT: Weaponized Passports: The Crisis of Uyghur Statelessness

UHRP REPORT: Repression Across Borders: The CCP’s Illegal Harassment and Coercion of Uyghur Americans 

UHRP BRIEFING: Testimony of UHRP Chair Nury Turkel on Forced Labor, Mass Internment, and Social Control, Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Hearing