UHRP welcomes bill to provide Uyghurs safe haven
March 9, 2021, 3:04 p.m. EST
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomes the introduction of the Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1630) in the U.S. House of Representatives to address the Uyghur refugee crisis.
“This legislation would empower the U.S. government to rescue vulnerable Uyghurs who have escaped China’s genocide,” said UHRP Executive Director, Omer Kanat.
The bill would prioritize those who have suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear of persecution in East Turkistan, as “Priority 2” (P-2) refugees of special humanitarian concern. This would enable Uyghurs to bypass refugee referrals from the UNHCR, an embassy, or an NGO, and allow them to apply directly to the United States for resettlement, regardless of location.
The UHRP thanks Rep. Ted Deutch (D), Rep. Diaz-Balart (R), Rep. Chris Smith (R), and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D) for introducing the bill, and encourages swift passage.
The bill comes in response to a statelessness crisis facing Uyghur asylum seekers. Uyghurs are at significant risk of refoulement to China in many countries, given efforts by the Chinese government to force their return.
In February, UHRP made a submission to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for its hearing on refugees fleeing religious persecution. UHRP recommends that the U.S. government: expedite asylum cases for Uyghurs already in the U.S.; create a refugee resettlement program for Uyghurs; ensure Uyghur resettlement is not impeded by lack of documentation; and address the harassment of Uyghur diaspora members by agents of the Chinese government.
In our April 2020 report, Weaponized Passports: The Crisis of Uyghur Statelessness, UHRP demonstrated the obstacles Uyghurs face obtaining documentation abroad. The report recommended states hosting Uyghurs to pass legislation to prevent statelessness; for governments to grant Uyghur asylum seekers legal status in a timely manner; and make commitments not to deport Uyghurs to China.