USCIRF calls for international response to atrocities against Uyghurs

USCIRF 2021 Report_2021-04-22

April 22, 2021, 6:41 p.m. EDT
For Immediate Release
Contact: Omer Kanat +1 (202) 790-1795, Peter Irwin +1 (646) 906-7722

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) welcomes the 2021 Annual Report by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which details continued Chinese government atrocities targeting Uyghurs, and makes clear recommendations for additional US and other government action.

“USCIRF is an outstanding champion of human rights for Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. The report’s careful documentation of atrocities is critical, at a time when the Chinese government has doubled down on its denial,” said UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat. 

“Commission Chair Gayle Manchin and Vice Chair Tony Perkins earned a ‘badge of honor’ for their outspoken support of Uyghurs’ rights, when the Chinese government banned them from entering China. This reflects their tireless advocacy, and UHRP is grateful,” continued Kanat.

Key findings of the report support mounting evidence from Uyghur survivors, civil society, academics, and journalists, about the brutal realities of the PRC government’s “sinification of religion” policy, facilitated by advanced surveillance technology to monitor and control Uyghurs.

The report recommends that the current administration “Urge like-minded countries to independently investigate and formally determine whether the abuses in Xinjiang meet the definitions of genocide and/or crimes against humanity under international law, and work together to take measures to hold China accountable.”

The report also recommends that the US government enforce the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act; impose further financial and visa sanctions on government agencies and officials responsible for rights abuses; publicly express concerns about Beijing hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics; and continue to counter Chinese influence operations in the United States.

In response to the lack of attention from American businesses to forced labor in the Uyghur Region, USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel remarked, “It is not only illegal to engage in these behaviors, but it’s unconscionable. It’s un-American. So I urge the business community to get onto the right side of history.” Turkel serves as the Board Chair of UHRP.

USCIRF Vice Chair Anurima Bhargava, in relation to efforts to open pathways for safe haven for persecuted groups abroad, urged President Biden and the administration to “raise the refugee ceiling as soon as possible, and to prioritize survivors of the most egregious forms of religious persecution.”

Read more:

UHRP encouraged by UK parliament motion recognizing genocide, calls on governments to respond accordingly, April 22, 2021

Beijing 2022 Olympics stakeholders must uphold human rights standards, April 15, 2021

UHRP applauds FCC Commissioner’s call for stronger response to CCP’s Uyghur genocide, April 1, 2021

Civil society groups welcome action by UN human rights experts to address forced labour in Uyghur region, March 30, 2021

Joint Letter: A Human Rights Approach to US-China Policy, February 17, 2021

UHRP statement on Uyghur refugees to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), February 12, 2021