IRLA Welcomes New Focus on Uighur Persecution in China
With passage of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, signed into law on June 17, the US government is shining a spotlight on recent escalation of persecution against Uighur Muslims and other Muslim minority groups in China. Since 2017, evidence has been growing that China has established forced labor camps—officially known as Vocational Education and Training Centers. These are internment camps are operated by the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and are purportedly part of the government’s “war on terror.” However, those who have visited these camps say that they are being used for forced labor, and for the purpose of indoctrinating Uyghurs and other Muslims and stamping out their ethnic and religious identity.
According to reports, these camps operate outside the legal system and many Uyghurs have reportedly been interned without trial. As of 2018, it was estimated that the Chinese authorities may have detained up to a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic Turkic Muslims, Christians as well as some foreign citizens such as Kazakhstanis.
The new US law passed the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support and requires the White House to identify and sanction individuals—including Chinese government officials—known to be involved in establishing and maintaining these forced labor camps.