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Rep. Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton) has urged the passage of a bill allowing the United States to sanction Chinese government officials over human rights abuses related to Uyghur Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
“At a 2018 congressional hearing, Mihrigul Tursun recounted her ordeal with torture, sexual abuse and detention in one of China’s ‘mass internment camps’ in Xinjiang,” Smith will say according to draft speech obtained by the New Jersey Globe. “She broke down weeping telling us that she pleaded with God to end her life. Her Chinese jailers restrained her to a table increased the electrical currents coursing through her body and mocked her belief in God. She was tortured simply for being an ethnic Uyghur and a Muslim in China.”
Since at least 2014, the region’s government has run re-education camps targeting the ethnic and religious minority.
“Given that this year is the 30th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre maybe we should not be surprised by the cruelty and brutality of the Chinese Communist Party—but the size and scale of what is happening to Xinjiang is audaciously repressive, even by China’s low standards,” Smith said.
Some groups, including the Center for World Indigenous Studies, have deemed China’s treatment of Uyghurs a genocide.
Smith previously introduced a nearly-identical version of the bill before the House Tuesday.
That measure, which was co-sponsored by 99 Democrats and 29 Republicans, has seen no movement since being introduced last year.
“We cannot be silent. We must demand an end to these barbaric practices and accountability from the Chinese government,” Smith said. “We must say ‘never again’ to the cultural genocide and the atrocities suffered by Uyghurs and others in China.”