Home Senators ask Secretary Pompeo to defend Uyghur journalists

Senators ask Secretary Pompeo to defend Uyghur journalists


newspaperU.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led a group of bipartisan Senators in writing to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to raise concerns about attempts by the Chinese government to punish six U.S.-based journalists with Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Uyghur Service for their reporting.

RFA is one of five media networks under the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. agency responsible for international media.  Its Uyghur-language news service provides roughly 12 million of China’s mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uyghur population with trustworthy, accurate news on the deteriorating human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), which has been increasingly restricted to outside news organizations, diplomats, and NGOs.

“RFA’s Uyghur Service journalists, most of them U.S. citizens and 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 deteriorating human rights situation in the XUAR. We are deeply concerned that these cases illustrate that a foreign nation is pursuing extreme measures in an attempt to interfere with Radio Free Asia’s congressionally mandated mission of bringing free press to closed societies,” the Senators wrote.

Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Steve Daines (R-MT) joined Sen. Warner in signing the letter, in which the Senators expressed strong concerns that these journalists are being targeted for their reporting even while living and working in the U.S.

“In your capacity as the United States’ senior diplomat, we urge you raise this urgent issue in your diplomatic communications with your Chinese counterparts, seek answers as to the whereabouts and well-being of these missing, detained, and jailed relatives, and appeal for these individuals to be unconditionally released at every opportunity. We ask you to make clear to the Chinese government that these cases are a priority for the U.S. Government. We also ask that you brief our offices within the next few weeks with an update on their cases, to include specifics about your engagement with the Chinese government to date, and your plan for future engagement,” the Senators told Pompeo.

A copy of the letter is available here.



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