China committed and continues to commit genocide and crimes against humanity Uighur Muslims, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.
“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,” Pompeo said in a statement.
He added: “The governing authorities of the second most economically, militarily, and politically powerful country on earth have made clear that they are engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group, even as they simultaneously assert their country as a global leader and attempt to remold the international system in their image.”
I have determined that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 19, 2021
US officials briefing reporters on the move said in a call that “an exhaustive documentation of (China’s) own policies, practices and abuse in Xinjiang” viewed by Pompeo led him to make the determination.
“This is a decision that we do not take lightly,” one of the US officials on the call said. “It has gone through a lot of process and a lot of analysis. The Secretary made the determination in his role... that this is the tool that we need to deploy at this time in order to advance this vitally important cause.”
Additionally, the outgoing Pompeo said that since “at least March 2017,” China committed crimes against humanity against the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.
He said this included “the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians, forced sterilization, torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor, and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”
Pompeo invited others to join the US in recognizing the ongoing genocide and revealed that he had directed the State Department to continue investigating and collecting information on the atrocities in Xinjiang.
“If the Chinese Communist Party is allowed to commit genocide and crimes against humanity against its own people, imagine what it will be emboldened to do to the free world, in the not-so-distant future.”
China has been widely condemned for complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, but which others have called concentration camps. Beijing denies accusations of abuse.
The rare determination follows intensive internal debate after Congress passed legislation on Dec. 27 requiring the US administration to determine within 90 days whether forced labor or other alleged crimes against the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are crimes against humanity or a genocide.
- With Reuters