A federal religious freedom commissioner has said there is “no excuse” for the Trump administration “delaying action” to place sanctions on Chinese officials for abuses committed in the mass internment of Uyghurs.
Nury Turkel, a commissioner of the bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said in a statement to CNA Wednesday that “USCIRF is disappointed that the U.S. government has not yet enacted targeted sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the mass detention of Uyghur and other Muslims.”
President Donald Trump signed legislation on June 17 that would impose financial and visa sanctions on individuals complicit in abuses in Xinjiang. The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act directs the president to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act—one of several laws authorizing the President to sanction human rights abusers.
China has established a network of camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) where as many as 1.8 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslim minorities are or have been detained, according to estimates by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (China Commission).
In the camps, there have been reports of detainees subjected to forced labor, indoctrination, and torture. Chinese officials initially denied the existence of the camps before acknowledging them, yet describing them as vocational training centers.
Turkel, a lawyer and Uyghur rights advocate appointed to USCIRF by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that these abuses cannot be denied, citing reports of human rights groups and official leaked documents that implicate “Chen Quanguo, Zhu Hailun, and other senior Chinese officials” in the abuses.
“There is no excuse for delaying action against China,” Turkel said in the statement sent to CNA.
Last week, Trump told Axios that he had not yet implemented Treasury sanctions against Chinese officials complicit in the abuses in Xinjiang because “we were in the middle of a major trade deal.”
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