Human Rights Violations in Xinjiang, China – U.S. Senate To Vote on Bill Against It

Human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China have long been under the scrutiny of human rights activists around the globe. The U.S. Senate is likely to vote for a bill called Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act that would allow sanctions against the Chinese officials responsible for these human rights abuses.

The bipartisan bill introduced by Republican Senator Marco Rubio is said to pressurize U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to forward the sanctions against the Chinese officials who are responsible for the much talked about human rights violations, said Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday.

The XUAR Communist Party Chairman Chen Quanguo is said to be one of the people believed to be accountable for the human rights repression in China’s XUAR region. The U.S. Senate is working on passing the sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

The vote on this bill is expected to come by the end of next week but can be still delayed, a source said. The weekly session of U.S. Senate ended on Thursday and will reconvene on Monday.

The source confirmed that McConnell’s office was confident that the bill would be passed unanimously but how soon that could be done was not inferred.

The XUAR authorities in China have been believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities since April 2017. These people have been held up with accusations of holding “strong religious views” and being “politically incorrect”. They are believed to have been kept in 1300 internment camps spread in this XUAR region.

After initially denying the existence of these camps, Beijing finally changed its tone last year and accepted these camps there. China however described these camps as being ‘boarding schools’ where the Uyghurs are provided vocational training, rendering the country safe from any terrorist activity.

However, some media channels and human rights groups indicated that the detained people have been kept against their will in these camps and are facing the brunt of political indoctrination, rough handling, poor diets and unhygienic living conditions. This has sparked angst among human rights activists across the globe demanding action.

U.S. Pressure Hopefully to Deal with the Situation

The growing pressure from U.S. Senate with passing of bill in coming days will hopefully put a curb on these camps operations.

Among the people who have asked Beijing to shut the camps on grounds of human rights violations are U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pampeo, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and several high ranking law makers.

Experts believe that due to pressure from United Nations and European Union members and majorly mounting U.S. pressure, China might have started sentencing the detained people in these camps or relocating them to factories in and around XUAR region as forced labour to legitimize their so-called vocational training.

The growing tension between Washington and Beijing due to latter’s lack of transparency regarding coronavirus infection can lead to a rapid passing of bill in Senate.

China has in past failed to pass any legislations regarding the human rights violations in XUAR region attracting condemn from international bodies. China has warned as any action into this matter from U.S. or likewise as interference and an ‘equal retaliation’ would be carried on.

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Dr. Neha Mathur

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