The persecution of Uighur Muslims has long been a widely debated topic with no results. Now the US Congress has passed a bill – Uighur Human Rights Act – authorising sanctions against Chinese officials over the persecution of Muslim Uighurs.
The bill will now pass to President Trump to veto or sign into law. The US is approving numerous bills as it continues to increase pressure on China. Beijing has been accused of mishandling of the coronavirus as well as taking advantage of the pandemic to further political agenda.
The Uighur Human Rights Act (UHRA) passed unanimously by a 413-1 vote and if signed into law, would give the Trump administration 180 days to compile a list of Chinese officials responsible for abuses after which the listed officials will face US sanctions.
The bill singles out the region’s Communist Party secretary, Chen Quanguo, a member of China’s powerful Politburo, as responsible for “gross human rights violations” against them.
Speaker Nanci Pelosi supported the approval of the bill and said that Beijing’s barbarous actions targeting the Uighur Muslims are an outrage to the collective conscience of the world. Republican Michael McCaul also spoke about the persecution of Uighurs and labelled Chinese actions as state-sponsored genocide.
According to Human Rights Watch, Uighur Muslims from China’s Xinjiang region have faced mass incarceration by the Chinese government. Estimates suggest 1-2 million Uighurs have been locked in so-called re-education camps while millions of others have been tortured, arrested or thrown in jail.
So far, China has brushed off all allegations against them and claims it has released more than a million Uighurs Muslims.
The sanctions by the US are a welcome move as the international community, especially Muslim countries, have remained silent on the persecution of Uighur Muslims. President of the Uighur World Congress, Dolkun Isa, applauded the passing of the bill and urged President Trump to sign it into law.
”Our community needs the US government and governments around the world to take real, meaningful action, as is provided for in this act. After years of suffering and frustration, the Uighur people need hope,” she said in a statement.
China-US relationship has become extremely turbulent in the recent weeks as Washington has gone on an all-out offensive against Beijing. It has not introduced bills such as UHRA but has also introduced bills related to Hong Kong, Tibet and blacklisting Chinese companies on American stock exchanges.
Officials in Beijing are yet to comment on the passing of the Uighur Human Rights Act. The Chinese refer to the detention of Uighurs as an internal issue and claim that the camps provide vocational training.
China has not allowed any independent investigation to the claims made by the international community and even lashed out at Washington’s earlier version of the law passed in December.