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US Congress bill slams China's Uyghur crackdown

Demonstrators take part in a demonstration against human rights violations of China on 27 December 2019 [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]
People gather to stage a demonstration in support of Uyghurs and against the human rights violations of China on 27 December 2019 [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]

The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday passed legislation calling for sanctions against officials in China responsible for human rights abuses in the country’s western region of Xinjiang.

The legislation titled “The Uighur Human Rights Act of 2020” passed by a 413-1 vote and came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pomp notified Congress.

It now awaits President Donald Trump’s approval or veto.

Critising China, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said: “Beijing’s barbarous actions targeting the Uighur people are an outrage to the collective conscience of the World.”

READ: Turkey envoy slams US senators for Uyghurs comments

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, however, urged the US to stop the law.

“This bill deliberately smears the human rights condition in Xinjiang, slanders China’s efforts in de-radicalization and counter-terrorism and viciously attacks the Chinese government’s Xinjiang policy.”

While Uyghur Muslims praised the US’ decision. “We urge President Trump to sign the Uyghur Human Rights Policy into law as a matter of priority and take immediate steps to implement it,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, in a statement yesterday.

According to the United Nations, last year, China sent more than one million Uyghurs to what it calls “re-education camps” in the Xinjiang region as part of its fight against terror. Detainees describe horrific abuse inside the camps, including rape and sterilisation. Images of those released from the detention show them unable to speak, walk or recognise their family members.

READ: Not all Uyghurs are terrorists, Turkey tells China

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