The below article was published by Courthouse News, photo credit: screenshot via Courthouse News
Less than a week after the U.S. announced sanctions and passed a law that bans imports from a region of China notorious for forced labor, protesters say they want more.
WASHINGTON (CN) — Chants of “Act now, America, act to save the Uyghurs,” echoed from megaphones outside the State Department building in Washington as a group of protesters live-streamed a rally Wednesday to mark the 72nd anniversary of China’s annexation of the East Turkistan Republic.
Renamed Xinjiang by China, the region is largely populated by an Islamic people called Uyghurs whom the government has branded as religious extremists. Purporting to liberate the Uyghurs from the bonds of their religion, China is keeping about 3 million in concentration camps where they are made to work and subjected to forced sterilization, unwanted abortions and other forms of torture. It is estimated that millions more are in prison.
About 10 to 15 representatives of the Eastern Turkistan Government in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement could be seen in the footage of Wednesday’s rally, calling on President Joe Biden to quickly sign new legislation that bans imports from the Xinjiang region unless companies can prove their products were not made with forced labor.
They also urged the federal government to speed up the processing of asylum applications from ethnic and religious minorities fleeing Chinese control.
“Over the past two decades, some 10 to 15,000 Uyghurs have fled to the U.S. due to China’s ongoing campaign of colonization, genocide and occupation. While many have obtained asylum, gained permanent resident status and U.S. citizenship, thousands of Uyghurs, including many of them standing here today, have still yet to have their asylum applications approved despite waiting many years, some for even over a decade,” said Salih Hudayar, founder and president of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement.
Hudayar urged the U.S. government to support his organization’s claim at The Hague against China for its human rights abuses and internment of Uyghur Muslims.
“Our case at the International Criminal Court is crucial to investigate and prosecute Chinese officials for genocide and other crimes against humanity, and to establish justice for our people,” Hudayar said.
The United States as well as governments in Canada, Britain and the Netherlands have classified Beijing’s forced sterilization, detention and forced labor of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities as genocide.
On the same day last week that the Senate passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act, the Commerce Department laid out a series of sanctions against biotech companies and government agencies in China, claiming the organizations were providing technology to the Chinese government that was then used to further violence against minorities.
Protesters also urged the United States to recognize East Turkistan as occupied territory, similar to Tibet, rather than referring to the region as a part of China.
“Today is East Turkistan’s Day of National Mourning, the day that China formally overthrew our independent East Turkistan Republic 72 years ago. Thus, we again call on the U.S. government and all governments across the world to treat East Turkistan on par with Tibet by formally recognizing East Turkistan as an occupied country,” Hudayar said.