Genocide in Xinjiang. The U.S. has concluded that the Chinese Communist Party’s actions against the Uighurs also constitute crimes against humanity.
The Chinese Communist Party, like other authoritarian regimes, has never cherished human life. That’s clear from the well-known horrors the party inflicted on the Chinese people during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the decades of repression of Tibetans and Falun Gong practitioners. Yet the free world has become dangerously inured to this bloody history. So long as we remain silent, party elites will continue to commit human-rights abuses against the people of China with impunity. We cannot allow this cycle of evil to continue.
Today, after careful deliberation, I have determined that the People’s Republic of China, under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party, has committed genocide and crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups, including ethnic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz. This announcement is the result of an exhaustive yearslong investigation that has spanned the globe and benefited from the efforts of government and nongovernment partners to document this nightmare, as well as the bipartisan support of Congress.
The facts are chilling. Since 2017, the Communist Party has forced more than a million people into internment camps in the Xinjiang region, on the pretext that they need “re-education.” Arbitrary and indefinite detentions lasting months or years at a time are common inside this modern gulag. Survivors tell of torture, sexual abuse including rape, forced labor, the use of electric shock to extract false confessions, and unexplained deaths in custody. Uighurs scarcely fare better outside the camps—Xinjiang has become a proving ground for an Orwellian surveillance state.
Of particular repugnance to pro-life Americans—and key in my determination that the atrocities in Xinjiang rise to the level of genocide—is the Communist Party’s efforts to stop Uighur women from giving birth via forced abortion and sterilization. Involuntary contraception measures, such as forced insertions of intrauterine devices, are also deployed. “They want to destroy us as a people,” said one such victim. The party has coerced Uighur women to marry non-Uighur men, and separated Uighur children from their families. Birthrates in Xinjiang dropped roughly 24% from 2018 to 2019, compared with a 4.2% decline across China overall. Not every campaign of genocide involves gas chambers or firing squads.
Throughout this campaign, Communist Party apparatchiks have denied international observers unhindered access to Xinjiang, and dismissed reliable reporting on the abuses. Xi Jinping’s regime has justified the camps as necessary for educating local populations, countering terrorism and alleviating poverty. The party has even promoted its attempts to curb Uighur births as a women’s empowerment effort. The truth is far darker. The Communist Party’s persecution of Uighurs, like its persecution of other religious minority groups, is simply an effort to Sinicize and eliminate the Uighur faith, culture and population.
The U.S. has led the world in exposing these horrors, and promoting accountability for the perpetrators. In March 2019, we co-hosted the first of several events at the United Nations, alongside Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, to alert the world to this vile mass attack on human dignity. We’ve issued a business advisory and “withhold release orders” to ensure American supply chains don’t support Uighur forced labor. We’ve unleashed sanctions against senior Communist Party leaders responsible for the repression across Xinjiang—the only country to have done so. We are also the first country to label the repression taking place in Xinjiang as genocide and crimes against humanity.
Thomas Jefferson, America’s first secretary of state, wrote: “The mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.” The genocidal blows struck against the Uighurs aren’t localized to Xinjiang; they are also an offense against the concept of universal human dignity that America’s founders championed. In the anguished cries from Xinjiang, the U.S. hears the echoes of Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. May all nations that hear them likewise bear witness to the stain of the century—the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide and crimes against humanity.
Mr. Pompeo is U.S. secretary of state.
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