New Delhi: China is committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” against the ethnic Uyghur community in Xinjiang, the US State Department said in a report to Congress Monday.
The 2021 Elie Wiesel Act report also cited Myanmar, Ethiopia, Iraq, Syria and South Sudan as countries that are witnessing or are at risk of experiencing atrocities and crimes against humanity. The report covers the period from July 2020 to May 2021.
“Secretary (Antony) Blinken affirmed in January 2021 that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. The crimes against humanity include imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution,” it stated.
The report said that the US has taken measures to prevent the violence through sanctions, visa restrictions and export controls.
According to the report, between June 2020 and January 2021, US Customs and Border Protection issued six ‘Withhold Release Orders’ (WRO) prohibiting imports from Xinjiang like cotton and tomato.
This was “based on reasonable indication of the use of forced labor” at the hands of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp, it said.
The US Department of Commerce added an additional 24 Chinese entities implicated in human rights abuses in Xinjiang to a trade restriction list, the report said.
There have also been visa restrictions on Chinese government officials believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention or abuse of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, or other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. “In coordination with international partners, the United States condemned the PRC’s abuses in Xinjiang in the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly”, the report added.
The 2021 Elie Wiesel Act report is the third of its kind to be submitted since the Elie Wiesel Act was signed into a law in January 2019. Section 5 of the law mandates an annual update on atrocities across the world and what the US government is doing to prevent and respond to them.
On Myanmar, Ethiopia, South Sudan
In response to the military coup in Myanmar, the report stated the US has suspended defence engagements with the country, imposed export controls and extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people from Myanmar in the US for 18 months.
The US has also made efforts “to target the military leadership and economic revenue generators of Burma’s military regime”.
Citing acts of ethnic cleansing in Western Tigray a concern, the report said the US has restricted certain foreign assistance and imposed new defence trade controls on Ethiopia. The US is the largest donor to the humanitarian response in Ethiopia, providing upto $305 million since the crisis began, the report added.
With regard to the violence perpetrated by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the US has helped fund the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL, the report stated.
Since 2020, the US has also sanctioned over 100 individuals and entities connected to the Assad regime. It has also identified a Turkey-based money services business (MSB) and three MSB operators, among other individuals in Syria and Turkey, who facilitated funds transfers to ISIS members in Syria and Iraq.
In South Sudan, the US has tried to help establish an African Union hybrid court to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the report stated.
The ongoing armed conflict in South Sudan, which began in 2011, includes fighting between various political and ethnic groups.
“The government has perpetrated extrajudicial killings including ethnic-based killings of civilians, widespread sexual violence, and use of food as a weapon of war,” added the report.
It also said that the US has supported civil society documentation to collect and preserve evidence so that it may be presented to the Commission on Human Rights.