UHRP Commends Canada for Progress on Uyghur Resettlement, Urges Concerned Governments to Consider Similar Measures


February 1, 2023 | 3:00 p.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 819-0598, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is calling on concerned governments to adopt proactive refugee resettlement programs for Uyghurs, following unanimous passage of a motion in Canadian parliament urging resettlement of Uyghurs in need of protection abroad.

“Words are important, but Uyghurs need to see action as a result of this vote,” said Omer Kanat, UHRP Executive Director. “Every parliament that has officially recognized genocide in the Uyghur region must back up their words with concrete programs to support Uyghurs in need of resettlement.”

The M-62 motion, drafted in response to Parliament’s recognition of genocide in February 2021, calls on the Canadian government to “urgently leverage” its Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program to “expedite the entry of 10,000 Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in need of protection” over two years beginning in 2024.

Today, UHRP released a new report, On the Fringe of Society: Humanitarian Needs of the At-Risk Uyghur Diaspora, detailing the humanitarian needs of Uyghur and other Turkic diaspora groups abroad, including the urgent need for resettlement. Since 2020, UHRP has meticulously documented the Chinese government’s use of transnational repression against Uyghurs and the evolving nature of its strategy to harass, intimidate, and silence Uyghurs abroad.

To mark World Refugee Day 2022, a group of 22 refugee and human rights groups and 50 Uyghur organizations called on governments to implement proactive refugee resettlement programs where Uyghurs are at risk of refoulement. Civil society organizations, governments, and multilateral institutions have all called for expedited consideration of asylum claims and the resettlement of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples abroad.

In March 2021, the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs recommended that Canada’s refugee agency “use existing refugee programs and create an exceptional stream to expedite entry into Canada for Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in need of protection…” following hearings in 2020 and 2021, for which UHRP provided testimony.

In early 2021, the UK Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on the Uyghur crisis—for which UHRP staff provided testimony—and released a report in July 2021. The report recommended that the Government “implement an asylum fast track for Uyghurs and members of other minority ethnic groups who are fleeing persecution in China.”

In the United States, bills in the US House and Senate have been introduced to designate Uyghurs as prioritized refugees of special humanitarian concern for specialized processing. The “Priority Two” designation would enable refugees to access the U.S. refugee program without a referral from the UNHCR, an embassy, or an NGO.

Read more:

13 Years After July 5 Unrest in Ürümchi, UHRP Calls for Safe Haven for Uyghur Refugees, July 5, 2022

Civil Society Calls for Urgent Measures to Protect Uyghurs at Risk of Refoulement, June 17, 2022

UHRP Encouraged by US Commitment to Oppose Transnational Repression, Urges Multilateral Action, March 22, 2022

On World Refugee Day 2021, UHRP Calls for Global Protections for Uyghur Refugees June 20, 2021

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), February 8, 2021

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