Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) welcomes the long-awaited release by the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of its assessment of the human rights situation in the Xinjiang region of China.
“We welcome that the OHCHR finally released the much-delayed report, confirming that the Chinese Communist Party has perpetrated serious human rights violations in Xinjiang that may constitute international crimes, including crimes against humanity,” said USCIRF Chair Nury Turkel. “The report is an important recognition by a UN body of the Chinese Communist Party’s atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang, but it is only a first step. USCIRF urges all human-rights supporting UN member states, including the United States, to support further investigations of China for genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims, based on credible evidence, by the incoming High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant UN entities. The United Nations and the international community, both collectively and individually, must do their parts to hold perpetrators of these egregious atrocity crimes accountable.”
Since 2017, the Chinese government has arbitrarily detained millions of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslims in concentration camps in Xinjiang, often targeting individuals engaged in Islamic religious practices. Detainees reported torture, rape, forced abortion and sterilization, political indoctrination, forced labor, and other abuses. Authorities demolished or desecrated thousands of mosques and religious sites important to Uyghurs’ unique religious, ethnic, and cultural identity. In addition, as many as 880,000 Muslim children have been separated from detained parents and placed in state-run orphanages and boarding schools. The U.S. government, parliaments of Canada and several European countries, and the European Parliament have determined the atrocities committed in Xinjiang as genocide and crimes against humanity.
“USCIRF strongly condemns the Chinese government’s repeated denial of abuses in Xinjiang in the face of overwhelming evidence of genocide and mounting international outcry over its relentless assault on Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of other Muslim groups,” said USCIRF Commissioner David Curry. “As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the UN Human Rights Council, China’s intimidation of victims and recalcitrant behaviors are unacceptable. It must come to terms with its international responsibility and immediately cease persecution of members of these vulnerable ethno-religious groups.”
In its 2022 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. State Department redesignate China as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. Furthermore, USCIRF called on the U.S. government to work with like-minded countries in international fora, including the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, to collectively hold the Chinese government accountable for severe religious freedom violations, including by creating a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate and identify perpetrators of genocide and other atrocity crimes in Xinjiang and document other severe human rights abuses throughout China.