WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously approved their bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (S.178). The bill was introduced to counter the totalitarian Chinese government’s widespread and horrific human rights abuses in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including the mass internment of over one million Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, as well as Beijing’s intimidation and threats against U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) on American soil.
Additional co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Coons (D-DE), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
“I am pleased that the Senate has taken action today to pass this important piece of legislation,” Menendez said. “This legislation makes clear that Congress will not turn a blind eye as millions of Uyghur Muslims are unjustly imprisoned, subjected to a mass surveillance state, and forced into labor camps by an autocratic regime. And while the Trump Administration has not seen fit to make the tragic situation in Xinjiang a priority, I am happy to see Congress is taking the necessary steps to hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity.”
“It’s long overdue for the United States to hold Chinese government and Communist Party officials accountable for the systemic and egregious human rights abuses and probable crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, including the internment in ‘political re-education’ camps of more than one million Uyghurs and Muslim minorities,” Rubio said. “I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation and send it to the President’s desk.”
Key elements of the legislation include:
The legislation also urges high-level U.S. engagement on this issue, the application of Global Magnitsky and related sanctions, the full implementation of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, a review of Commerce Department export controls and end user restrictions and the establishment of a voluntary database whereby U.S. citizens and LPRs can provide information regarding missing/detained family members with a view toward pressing for accountability.
U.S. Representatives Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced companion legislation in the House.