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A Call for Sanctions to Stop Anti-Uyghur Brutality in Xinjiang

Campaign for Uyghurs, the Uyghur Human Rights Project, the World Uyghur Congress, and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation call for the use of the Global Magnitsky Act.

By Marco Respinti

August 9, 2022

Aytungul Abdukerim, one of the inmate in Xinjiang’s transformation through education camps. Source: Xinjiang Police Files.

The repression against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which its non-Han inhabitants call East Turkestan, is becoming increasingly barbaric. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s police is seriously responsible for that, under directions of the local and central Chinese administrations. Now, the brutality of the police in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region (XUAR) has been fully documented through new specific research guided by German scholar Dr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow and Director in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VCMF) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Zenz is the leading authority on the XUAR detention and re-education camps, and for this endures the reprimand, scorn, and calumny of the CCP.

All evidence is freely available at a dedicated web site launched on May 24, 2002. It is called “Xinjiang Police Files” and it is a project of VCMF. The explosive website collects documents, speeches, and thousands of images that were leaked from the Chinese police and XUAR administration. As the site states, this huge material was “obtained by a third party from the outside through hacking into computer systems operated by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) of the counties of Konasheher […], located in Kashgar Prefecture, and Tekes […] in Ili Prefecture, both regions traditionally dominated by [Turkic] ethnic groups. The person who unexpectedly reached out to the author to provide the files acted on a solely individual basis, attached no conditions to their provision or publication, and wishes to remain anonymous due to personal safety concerns. While some of the material had been stored in encrypted form, the individual was able to decrypt part of the files through mechanisms that were communicated to the author. The author himself was not involved in any part of the process required to obtain or decrypt the files.”

Dr. Zenz led a team of researchers, and through peer-reviewed analysis—published by Zenz himself in the Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies and in the online magazine ChinaFile—he was able to verify and authenticate the leaked material.

For the first time, thousands of images of persecuted and detained Uyghurs are now available. Over 7,000 pictures show the dire situation in the re-education camps, which the CCP still ridiculously calls “training schools” and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, didn’t see, nor was she interested in seeing during her recent trip to the region. Pictures show police brutality and depict weapons such as machine guns and large clubs. In fact, there are also detailed police instructions for securitization of the internment camps, including how to use sniper rifles and large clubs to prevent escape as well as rules when to shoot. The use of handcuffs is widespread too—and anyone would agree this is too much even for the most turbulent “student” of any “professional school” in the world.

The leaked files also provide more than 5,000 police photographs of Uyghurs taken between January and July 2018. Crossing them with other available data, at least 2,884 of them can be shown to have been detained in the dreadful camps of the XUAR. These include women and boys as young as 15 years old, some surrounded by armed police, some in colored vests sitting behind bars, and some who appear to have been harshly beaten.

Documents available at the “Xinjiang Police Files” web site present detailed information on over 100,000 detainees, including the personal information and status of 8,000 detainees of the so-called “vocational training center” in Konasheher county.

Police security drill at Tekes CountyDetention Center, Xinjiang. Source: Xinjiang Police Files.

Several speeches and transcript from different high level CCP officials in the region show the constant ferocity of the police against those that the central government and local authorities target as “terrorists,” while mere religious practice and sentiment is considered a sign of “extremism” and “fanaticism.”

In face of this massive expose of a brutal policy for genocide, four prominent organizations fighting for truth on XUAR, i.e. Campaign for Uyghurs (CfU), the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and VCMF itself, are now addressing a letter to US Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, and US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, urging them “to sanction all Chinese officials responsible for the genocide in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), also known as East Turkistan.” In fact, the letter continues, “sanctions are required by law under Section 6 of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 (P.L.116-145).”

Pointing at the new evidence now disclosed by the “Xinjiang Police Files,” the letter openly asks to incriminate “multiple Chinese government officials at the highest levels of the central government including Zhao Kezhi, Minister of Public Security in Beijing, Wang Yang, Head of the Central Xinjiang Work Coordination Small Group, Guo Shengkun, Head of China’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission, and Hu Lianhe, Deputy Director of the Office of the Central Committee.” By imposing stringent sanctions to this people under the Global Magnitsky Act, the promoters write, “the United States can send a powerful message that the world will not stand by as Beijing commits atrocities in violation of the Genocide Convention of 1948.”

In a comment provided to Bitter Winter, bewildered UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat wonders: “Why are Chinese government officials still allowed to buy houses in California, Vancouver and France? We need Global Magnitsky sanctions to freeze their international assets and make it a crime for banks to handle their wealth.”

Zhao Kezhi. Credits.

The four promoters of the letter wrote to the US but Europe is involved as well. “It’s also time for Europeans to step up,” Louisa Greve, Director of Global Advocacy at the UHRP, told Bitter Winter. “All governments have a treaty obligation under the Genocide Convention of 1948. The least they can do is to sanction the perpetrators who deliberately commit atrocities on millions of innocent people.” Thus, she added, “European governments cannot sit back and deflect responsibility to ‘the international community’ to act. Only four of China’s genocidaires have been sanctioned by the EU. On 22 March, 2021 the Council of the EU decided to sanction Zhu Hailun, the architect of mass surveillance against Uyghurs; Wang Junzheng, the CCP secretary for the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which is accused of using forced Uyghur labour; and Wang Mingshan and Chen Mingguo, accused of perpetrating large-scale arbitrary detentions and degrading treatment upon Uyghurs. What about the others?”

The letter to Yellen and Blinken by CfU, UHRP, WUC and VCMF on the staggering situation in XUAR “can be signed and endorsed by individuals and organizations until Wednesday August 10, 2022,” as Kristina Olney, VCMF Director of Government Relations, told Bitter Winter. “The original deadline of Friday August 5, 2022, has been extended.” Of course, Bitter Winter signed the letter too.

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