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


For immediate release
August 28, 2019 11:00 am EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478-1920

The Uyghur Human Rights Project’s (UHRP) new report, Repression Across Borders: The CCP’s Illegal Harassment and Coercion of Uyghur Americans, reveals how the Chinese government is applying a systematic, ambitious, multi-year, well-resourced, relentless and cruel policy to inflict pain and suffering on Uyghurs abroad in an attempt to control their speech and actions.

The campaign constitutes an ongoing series of crimes committed with impunity on U.S. persons. It not only inflicts severe emotional and psychological pain on every family, but also constitutes a systematic and ongoing violation of Americans’ rights and freedoms by a foreign power on American soil.

For the Uyghur-American community, these crimes committed by the Chinese state constitute a double-victimization. They suffer agonizing trauma due to the detention, torture, or death of their family members back home, and also suffer continuous violations of their own rights and freedoms under the U.S. Constitution.

“UHRP’s new report on the Chinese government’s harassment of Uyghur Americans should send a clear message for action. China’s apparatus of repression has no regard for the sovereignty of other countries and the right of Uyghurs to live free of Beijing’s control. The individual accounts related in Repression Across Borders are chilling to read and demonstrate the resilience and bravery of overseas Uyghurs in the face of pressure exerted by a global power,” said UHRP Director, Omer Kanat.

Repression Across Borders details specific threats, including those received on the Chinese messaging app, WeChat; pressure on Uyghur Americans to inform to Chinese authorities on other members the Uyghur community; the #MeTooUyghur movement online; and reprisals the Chinese government has carried out against those who have spoken out about the imprisonment of their family members in the camps. The report also covers harassment in universities and cyberattacks on Uyghur Americans.

Since the mass internment campaign targeted at Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in China began in 2017, the Chinese government has stepped up its intimidation Uyghur Americans with threatening to place their family members in the camps. Some of the threats are vague messages to consider the welfare of their families; others are explicit threats to detain family members.

Chinese officials contact Uyghurs in the United States, by text, chat apps, voicemail, email, and via messages delivered by third parties. Some members of the community report receiving such messages on a weekly and at-times even a near-daily basis.

In a series of interviews with UHRP, Uyghur Americans disclosed the extent of the Chinese state’s illegal harassment, surveillance and coercion of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. From these individuals, UHRP obtained screenshots of messages sent by police officers in China to Uyghurs via WeChat, the Chinese messaging app.

UHRP calls upon the United States government to use the appropriate powers and authorities to bring an end to this illegal and unacceptable pattern of crimes on American soil.

The report makes a number of recommendations to increase protection for Uyghur-Americans in the United States, urging:

  • Congress to pass the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 (H.R. 649 and S. 178), and the UIGHUR Act of 2019 (H.R 1025).
  • Congress to request detailed information regarding U.S. government protection of Uyghur-Americans’ Constitutional rights and freedoms, covering actions by law enforcement agencies and the State Department.
  • The FBI to thoroughly investigate instances of attacks on Uyghurs, regardless of any legislative enactment.
  • Local law enforcement, particularly in northern Virginia where the largest Uyghur community is located, to work toward building rapport with Uyghur residents.
  • Website hosts to provide support to Uyghurs, particularly Uyghur activists whose websites suffer attacks.

Repression Across Borders builds on “The Fifth Poison: China’s Harassment of Uyghurs Overseas,”a November 2017 UHRP report, which documents harassment of Uyghurs globally. Since 2017, the Chinese government has intensified its use of overseas harassment of Uyghurs even as it has instituted mass internment of Uyghurs in concentration camps.

Repression Across Borders: The CCP’s Illegal Harassment and Coercion of Uyghur Americans can be downloaded here: