Thousands of Uyghurs, people of mostly Muslim faith, are being held in hundreds of labor camps across East Turkestan in China. This week, U.S. senators, including Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, introduced a bipartisan resolution to designate the human rights abuses occurring there as genocide.
The legislation was introduced by U.S. senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and John Cornyn (R-Tx.). Senator Cardin and senators James Risch (R-Id.), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Or.) joined.
The resolution also includes abuses against ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups in the region. East Turkestan has been fighting for independence since 1949. Prime Minister Salih Hudayar believes China created the camps to prevent independence and protect the country’s oil and natural gas industry.
Hudayar is asking the U.S. Senate to use the term “East Turkestan,” not “Xinjiang,” as the latter is colonial terminology. “It’s despised by our people,” he said.
The East Turkestan Government in Exile (ETGE) and Hudayar have been fighting for this resolution for over two years. They’re also fighting for a resolution that recognizes East Turkestan as an occupied country. The ETGE has met with over 100 senators and congresspeople.
“After the election in the U.S. I think this will be put on the Senate floor and we’re also trying to get the House to introduce a similar legislation to make it a joint resolution,” Hudayar said.
If it is recognized as a genocide, the U.S. government will have a moral and legal obligation to combat it. “It will also pressure the U.S. government to raise this issue at the United Nations’ level and call on the United Nations to uphold the UN Genocide Convention,” Hudayar said.