Florida Republicans Push Trump Administration to Sanction Chinese Officials for Xinjiang Atrocities

Last week, almost 80 members of Congress signed a letter to U.S. State Sec. Mike Pompeo and U.S. Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin regarding the ongoing atrocities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The letter urges the administration to issue a formal determination of the atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and genocide, and presses them to impose sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for these heinous policies.

Signers included Florida Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott and Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Brian Mast, Ross Spano, Michael Waltz and Ted Yoho. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats who signed the letter included U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Ed Markey of Massachusetts and U.S. Reps. Eliot Engel of New York and Brad Sherman of California.

The full text of the letter is below:

We write with regard to disturbing new evidence of forced sterilizations and other coercive measures used to curtail family size among ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the People’s Republic of China. 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. Therefore, we urge you not only to condemn this heinous policy but also to sanction those Chinese officials responsible for these crimes. Furthermore, we ask that the Administration make an official determination as to whether the Chinese government is responsible for perpetrating atrocity crimes, including genocide, against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim ethnic minorities.

The United States has made the prevention of genocide and other atrocity crimes a priority. The United States ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1988, and enacted the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (P.L.115-441), which formalized atrocity prevention and response as a priority under U.S. law in 2019. A public determination of the atrocity crimes being committed against Uyghurs will focus the Administration’s resources to address and expose offenses in the XUAR and demonstrate U.S. leadership to the international community.

It also has been long-standing U.S. policy to ensure that Chinese government officials responsible for the coercive enforcement of population control policies are held to account (see 8 U.S.C. 1182e). Given the egregious intent undergirding these policies in the XUAR, we ask that you impose Global Magnitsky Act sanctions for any individuals or entities complicit in the implementation of this policy, including as appropriate, government officials or entities working in partnership with the Ministry of Health or other government ministries. 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.

In addition to making a determination of the atrocity crimes, including crimes against humanity and genocide, and imposing sanctions, we also urge you to work with other concerned countries to support a United Nations (UN) initiative to examine and document Chinese government policies in the XUAR in light of its international obligations. In particular, our representatives should work with allies and partners to hold a UN Security Council briefing and to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation in the XUAR.

Evidence of violence against Uyghur women and coercive efforts to halt the growth of the Uyghur population in the XUAR requires strong U.S. leadership and international action. The Chinese government has committed horrific acts in the XUAR—including mass internment, family separations, forced labor and forced renunciations of faith—for far too long. It is time for action.

We stand ready to assist you in these efforts.


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