State Department: China’s Uyghur Genocide Continued Throughout 2022

Demonstrators with chains on their hands and feet hold a protest as part of the worldwide "Stop Genocide Now" campaign to draw attention to China's policies towards the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in Fatih, Istanbul, Turkiye on July 31, 2022. East Turkestan New Generation Movement and International Union of East …
Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.S. State Department released its 2022 human rights report for China on Monday, enraging the Chinese Communist government by finding that “genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

The report said ongoing crimes perpetrated against the Uyghurs included arbitrary imprisonment, forced sterilization, coerced abortions, rape, torture, and “draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”

The State Department heard “credible reports” of extrajudicial imprisonment, political re-education, repression across national borders, pervasive surveillance, family members punished for the alleged offenses of individuals, and forced labor – including that of children.

According to the report, China keeps these crimes against humanity under wraps by tightly controlling the Internet and placing “serious restrictions on free expression and media, including physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others.” 

As for China’s occasional claims to investigate reported abuses, the State Department found the investigations severely lacking, noting that in many cases there was no subsequent announcement of “results or findings of police malfeasance or disciplinary action.”

The report included several citations of Uyghurs who said family members died in China’s brutal re-education camps, or died shortly after their release due to the abuse they suffered:

In May, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that Yaqup Hesen died on April 20, days after authorities released him from a prison in Ghulja. An anonymous source said that “there are many” Uyghurs who died after being released from the nearby prisons and camps.

In March RFA reported Zeynebhan Memtimin died in prison in 2020 from unknown causes while serving a 10-year sentence for avoiding a forced abortion, and that Abdureshid Obul also died in prison in 2020, where he had been held after helping his wife escape from authorities to avoid undergoing a forced abortion.

On July 30, human rights nongovernmental organization (NGO) Rights Protection Network (RPN) reported that Lin Tianming was killed on June 28 in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, after submitting a petition at the Fujian People’s Government Petition Office to contest the forced demolition of his home. According to RPN, security personnel forced him into a van and later pushed him out of the moving vehicle, causing his death.

The State Department cited many more cases of whistleblowers and “petitioners” mysteriously disappearing after reporting cases of abuse to Xinjiang officials or international human rights groups. Some of the people “disappeared” by China had children, and some of them “disappeared” as well.

The report provided many documented examples of abuse perpetrated against captive Uyghurs, ranging from poor nutrition and medical care to sensory deprivation, brutal forced labor, deliberate exposure to toxic substances, sexual abuse, and outright torture – including waterboarding and the infamous “tiger chairs” China is so fond of strapping Uyghurs into. 

As with many authoritarian regimes, the Chinese government often proclaims dissidents are suffering from mental disorders and sentences them to involuntary “psychiatric care” that looks suspiciously like torture and brainwashing. China also has a special detention system called liuzhi that operates beyond the minimal constraints and oversight placed on its ghastly prisons, providing a handy disposal system for Uyghurs accused of “corruption.”

The Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU), a non-profit organization that was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, on Tuesday applauded the State Department report for highlighting the case of Dr. Gulshan Abbas, the missing sister of CFU founder Rushan Abbas. 

Gulshan Abbas was kidnapped by the Chinese government in September 2018, a few days after her brother spoke at a panel on the Uyghur genocide. China denied she was in custody until the CFU forced its hand in 2020 by exposing her secret trial and imprisonment.

“This recognition is not only important for me and my family, but also for the countless other Uyghur families who have been torn apart by the Chinese regime’s oppressive policies. We will continue to fight for justice and accountability, and I urge the international community to join us in demanding an end to the atrocities being committed against my people by the genocidal Chinese regime,” Rushan Abbas said on Tuesday.

The Chinese government was considerably less pleased with the State Department report than CFU. The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday howled that the report was “full of lies and ideological bias,” without offering any evidence to back up its assertions.

“What the world can see from this year’s reports are not human rights practices in various countries, but the hegemonic and bullying practices and double standards of the U.S. itself,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

Wang never got around to mentioning the Uyghurs at all in his fulminating response, and neither did the state-run Global Times in its account of Wang’s outburst, suggesting the Chinese Communist Party is beginning to realize that naming the people it abuses is a net loser, even when issuing frenzied denials.

The Global Times joined Wang in hammering the regime’s standard talking point that “human rights” are just a scam the West uses to keep rising authoritarian powers in check, a cynical “bargaining chip in trade, aid, and diplomatic relations,” and then scrambled to change the subject by touting China’s risible “report” that concluded American democracy is nothing but “chaos,” “havoc,” and “disaster.”

The Biden administration decided that Monday would be a good time to play into China’s propaganda about “bargaining chips” by openly stating that it will set even the gravest human rights concerns aside to accomplish other objectives.

“We’re not pulling our punches with anyone,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted when rolling out the 2022 global human rights report. “Sometimes we do it more publicly; sometimes we do it more privately. We’re trying to determine in each instance how we can hopefully be most effective in advancing human rights and advancing human dignity.”

“At the same time, as we’re working in different ways with different countries, we have a multiplicity of interests that we’re working on. Human rights is a central interest of ours; it’s not the only one,” Blinken said.


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