The actions of the Chinese government against the Uyghur population amount to genocide and crimes against humanity, said a report by Catholic News Agency, quoting a top US official.
The news agency reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted on Twitter that the People’s Republic of China “is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China.”
Pompeo made the statement on January 19, his last full day in the office.
He said the attacks on Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups “are an affront to the Chinese people and to civilized nations everywhere.”
“The People’s Republic of China and the CCP must be held to account,” read Pompeo’s Twitter post.
The Chinese government admitted in October 2018 that “re-education camps” for members of the Uyghur Muslim population had been established in Xingjiang. The camps were first spotted on satellite imagery in 2017.
The highest estimate sets the total number of inmates in the camps at three million, plus approximately half a million minor children in special boarding schools for “re-education” purposes.
Survivors have reported indoctrination, forced abortions, beatings, forced labor, and torture in the camps.
Last week, a bipartisan commission of the US Congress said in a report that China have possibly committed “genocide” against Uyghurs and other minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) said new evidence had emerged in the past year that the Chinese government and Communist Party have taken unprecedented steps to extend their repressive policies through censorship, intimidation, and the detention of people in China for exercising their fundamental human rights.
“Nowhere is this more evident than in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) where new evidence emerged that crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring,” the CECC said in their report released Jan. 14.
“In [Xinjiang], it is now estimated that up to 1.8 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Hui, and others have been arbitrarily detained in a system of extrajudicial mass internment camps where they are subjected to forced labor, torture, and political indoctrination,” the report said.
“In the last year, leaked Chinese government documents provided additional evidence that the mass internment camp system was organized at the direction of top party officials and confirmed the prevalence of the use of coercive force and punishment for inmates,” it said.
“Forced labor in the XUAR is widespread and systematic and exists within the mass internment camps and elsewhere throughout the region, as part of a targeted campaign of repression against Turkic and Muslim minorities.”
The report also accused the Chinese government of harassing Uyghurs in the United States.
The Chinese government has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills and which others have called concentration camps.
Faith leaders, activist groups and others have said crimes against humanity, including genocide, are taking place there. In August, religious leaders, including Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Bo and Indonesia’s Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, said in an open letter that the “repression” in Xinjiang has become “one of the most egregious human tragedies since the Holocaust.”
The CECC report called for a formal US “determination on whether atrocities are being committed” in Xinjiang, something required within 90 days of US legislation passed on Dec. 27.
In a statement published on the Department of State website, Pompeo said that “after careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, has committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”
He specifically cited the “arbitrary imprisonment” of more than a million Uyghurs; the continued use of forced sterilization, torture, and forced labor; and “the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”
Pompeo said he believes “this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
He called on the People’s Republic of China to “immediately release all arbitrary detained persons” and to “abolish its system of internment, detention camps, house arrest and forced labor; cease coercive population control measures, including forced sterilizations, forced abortion, forced birth control, and the removal of children from their families; end all torture and abuse in places of detention; end the persecution of Uyghurs and other members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China, and afford Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities the freedom to travel and emigrate.”
The secretary of state also requested that “all appropriate multilateral and relevant judicial bodies” to work alongside the United States “to promote accountability for those responsible for these atrocities.”
The Department of State will continue to investigate the situation in Xinjiang, he said, and will make this evidence available to other authorities as well.