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Congress, state governments must address Uyghur genocide

Art by Hannah Singer

As a government that perpetuates the forced sterilization, rape and torture of over 1 million Uyghurs, China should not be allowed to have a formidable nuclear force nor a veto position on the United Nations. 

Numerous Chinese police files obtained by the BBC in 2022 exposed China’s use of government re-education camps to detain Uyghur Muslims. Re-education camps, supposedly intended to counter terrorism and promote social integration, cause the destruction of cultural and religious identity by forcing a “standard cultural practice” onto detainees.

The files also described the existence of a shoot-to-kill policy, which encourages soldiers to shoot detainees who try to flee the camps.

The U.N. also determined in a 2022 report that China violated international human rights law through torture, enforced disappearances, intimidation and eradication of religious or cultural expression. These practices made their use of re-education camps a potential crime against humanity. 

However, because China’s presence in the U.N. is a strong tether to stable diplomatic relationships with global nuclear powers, the U.N. and the U.S. refuse to acknowledge that the Xinjiang re-education, or internment, camps are a form of genocide.

Of course, this issue does not present a static response. China is committing genocide against the Uyghur minority, and it does not get any more complex than that. However, the U.N. denying to classify the issue as genocide is one of its safest responses. Though a slippery slope, China has the ability to wreak nuclear havoc on other nations including Taiwan if China is not part of the U.N.

Though the U.N. refuses to acknowledge the genocide, China’s actions can be classified as one based on the U.N.’s own criterion that a nation must have the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Now more than ever, it is imperative that we, as an American collective, engage more with the issue by mobilizing and holding legislative bodies accountable for not addressing the issue.

There is too much at stake for us to be complacent and self-insulated. We need to call out China’s humanitarian abuses and honor basic human rights by enacting legislative measures, such as increased economic sanctions.

Social media and the press helped spotlight the issue for a short period of time. 

But in order to create substantial change, we need to realize that our minimal efforts have done little to cease China’s incessant violence.

Instead of giving China’s human rights abuses 15 minutes of fame, we need to demand action from local legislators by raising the issue at town halls and garnering widespread support for increased American action.

Though stopping China’s powerful government is a monumental task, taking tangible steps to address the issue on the congressional and state levels are steps in the right direction.

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Nidhi Thummalapalli
Nidhi Thummalapalli, Editor-in-Chief
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