A bipartisan group of lawmakers has accused President Donald Trump and his administration of failing to take any “meaningful” action against China over its repression of the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the group of lawmakers, which includes Democratic Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel and Republican ranking member Representative Ted Yoho, suggested that the Trump administration had so far failed to hold China accountable for their egregious human rights abuses.
Last September Pompeo wrote to the committee, promising to look into the various abuses which include surveillance programs, mass detentions, and even forcing Muslims to renounce their faith and instead pledge allegiance to the communist regime. However, the letter noted that the administration has so far “taken no meaningful action” on the issue.
“Central and regional Chinese government policies have systematically denied Uygurs and other Turkik Muslims in XUAR [the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region] of their basic freedoms and have created programs of mass surveillance and internment under the guise of “re-education” and “anti-terrorism” efforts,” it read. “Over a million Muslims have been interned in “political re-education” camps without due process as part of a broader attempt to wipe out their separate identity, language, and history.”
“The United States must stand up for the oppressed and, at every opportunity, make clear to the Chinese government that the situation is in XUAR is a priority for the U.S government,” it continued. “This issue is bigger than just China. It is about demonstrating to strongmen globally that the world will hold them accountable for their actions.”
Responding to the letter, the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, told reporters the issue was “being discussed thoroughly within the administration,” but they were not taking additional steps at this time.
Meanwhile, a State Department spokeswoman said they remained “deeply disturbed that since April 2017, the Chinese government has detained more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims in internment camps.”
“We will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies, free all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of its Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate,” she said.
China continues to deny the allegations, with recent reports indicating they are aggressively trying to hide evidence of the camps ahead of international human rights inspections.