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Statement on China’s Treatment of the Uyghur People and Other Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang Province

(image from Al Jazeera)

The Arlington Human Rights Commission joins the United Nations, US State Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, AFL-CIO, and many other organizations to express grave concern for China’s treatment of the Uyghur people.

For decades, China has systematically assimilated the province of Xinjiang, facilitating the settlement of the ethnic Han majority and minimizing the education, language, religion, and traditions of ethnic minorities like the Uyghurs.

In the last 10 years, this state policy has escalated dramatically, to include mass incarceration at prison, labor, internment, and re-education camps, where torture, abuse, and deprivation are routine. This has prompted many organizations to define the situation as genocide. Genocide is not necessarily defined by mass executions - the systematic elimination of an entire culture is at the heart of China’s “unification” policies.

It is important to note that Uyghurs are predominantly Muslim. The Chinese government has consistently worked to undermine all religions, which it views as alternative sources of leadership that compete with the government. But beyond that, this represents another case of state-sponsored persecution of Muslim minorities, as seen in places like Myanmar and India.

The AHRC feels that symbolic gestures like the United States’ recent diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics are not nearly enough. Full diplomatic pressure needs to be applied, including economic sanctions focusing on the outputs of forced labor.

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