Connolly-Chabot lead condemnation of Chinese government suppression in Uyghur

Gerry ConnollyCongressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), co-chair of the House Freedom of the Press Caucus, sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the Trump administration to call on the Chinese government to cease its repressive policies and human rights violations of Uyghurs and ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region, including actions taken against family members of Radio Free Asia journalists. The letter was signed by Representatives Chabot, Beyer, Cicilline, Norton, Raskin, Schiff and Cárdenas.

“We urge you take immediate action to address an alarming situation affecting six U.S.-based journalists with Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Uyghur Service,” the Members wrote. “RFA’s journalists, most of them U.S. citizens and all residents of Virginia, have relatives in China—including elderly parents—who have been detained, jailed, or forcibly disappeared in what appears to be an act of direct retaliation against these U.S. journalists for their work in exposing the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang. We are deeply concerned that these cases represent a concerted effort to interfere with Radio Free Asia’s congressionally mandated mission of bringing free press to closed societies.”

“We request that the Department continue to consult with RFA’s journalists about their China-based families’ situations,” the Members added. “In your capacity as the United States’ senior diplomat, we request that you raise this urgent issue with your Chinese counterpart, seek answers as to the whereabouts and well-being of the missing, detained, and jailed relatives, and appeal for these individuals to be released at every opportunity.”

According to human rights groups, during the past year, the Chinese government has detained more than one million residents of XUAR, including Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, in “political re-education camps” or forced them to attend mandatory re-education sessions in their villages. The 2017 Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report on China found that government officials sent men, women, and children to forced labor camps and separated them from family members.

In their letter, the Members requested that they be briefed by the State Department on this situation by September 30th.

The full letter is available here.

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