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US lawmakers urge Trump Administration officials to condemn forced sterilizations in China’s Xinjiang

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, and Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner speak to reporters following their travel to Mexico City, Mexico, July 13, 2018. (State Department/Released)
July 09, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to respond to strong evidence of the forced sterilization of Uyghur Muslims and ethnic Kazakhs in northwest China’s Xinjiang region by condemning the population control policy and imposing sanctions on Chinese officials responsible.

The letter dated July 2 was sent by Representative James P. McGovern (D-Mass.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chairman and cochairman of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC).

They and 76 other members of the House and Senate who signed the letter asked the Trump administration officials to make a determination as to whether the Chinese government is responsible for perpetrating atrocity crimes, including genocide, against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

“These human rights abuses demand a response from the United States as well as the international community because evidence strongly indicates that the Chinese government is intentionally working to destroy and essentially wipe out Uyghur families, culture, and religious adherence, and encouraging violence against women,” the letter said.

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“Therefore, we urge you not only to condemn this heinous policy, but also to sanction those Chinese officials responsible for these crimes,” it said.

The letter was issued in response to a report issued June 29 about a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of forced sterilizations and abortions targeting Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), which may amount to a government-led campaign of genocide under United Nations definitions.

The population control measures include fines on Uyghur women with three or more children, required pregnancy tests and examinations, and the forced implantation of intrauterine devices or sterilization surgery, the report by German researcher Adrian Zenz said.

An uptick in the forced population control policies occurred in tandem with China’s campaign of mass incarceration of Uyghurs launched in the region in April 2017.

Women who refuse to undergo the procedures are detained in a network of internment camps, believed to hold up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

The letter asks the Trump administration officials to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, on individuals or entities complicit in the implementation of the policy, including government officials or bodies working with the Ministry of Health or other ministries.

The U.S. law, named after a Russian corruption whistleblower who died in prison, calls for the seizure of assets and a U.S. travel ban for foreign officials who violate human rights.

“Chinese authorities responsible for forced sterilizations and other coercive measures targeting Uyghur women should not benefit from access to the United States or our financial systems,” the letter said.

In June, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 that had passed almost unanimously in both houses of Congress in late May.

The legislation highlights arbitrary incarceration, forced labor, and other rights abuses in the XUAR and provides for sanctions against Chinese officials deemed responsible for them under the Magnitsky Act, although such measures have not yet been taken.

The letter also asks Pompeo and Mnuchin to work with U.S. allies and partners to hold a U.N. Security Council briefing and appoint a special rapporteur on the situation in the XUAR.