Written Testimony of Rushan Abbas for Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade

HEARING

Enforcing the Ban on Imports Produced by Forced Labor in Xinjiang

Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade

Written Testimony of Rushan Abbas

Founder and Executive Director of

Campaign for Uyghurs

(September 17th, 2020)

Honorable Chairman Earl Blumenauer and the honorable members at the Subcommittee on Trade of the Committee on Ways and Means,

At present, upwards of 3 million Uyghurs are languishing in concentration camps set up by the Chinese regime in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, referred to by Uyghurs by its historic name, East Turkistan. Millions more are being used as forced labor in factories and farms throughout the region, and even across China. While the existence of these camps was initially denied by the Chinese authorities, the narrative given by the regime has shifted to admit their existence, but to define them as “vocational training centers”. Now the Chinese Communist Party leaders have shifted to label an entire group of people in need of “reeducation” in order to be in line with Chinese socialism as Xi Jin Ping defines it. It is genocide.

My own personal testimony speaks to the enormity of the lie that the Chinese regime is preventing extremism and training with vocational skills to get Uyghurs jobs. My own sister, a retired medical doctor, was abducted by the Chinese authorities. She is a law-binding citizen of China and had lived a quiet life of service to others, was not particularly religious, nor was she involved in any political activities She had confidence that trouble would not find her because she lived a quiet life. Her disappearance on September 11, 2018 came just six days after I spoke out publicly to condemn the Chinese regime’s treatment of the Uyghurs and the disappearance of my husband’s entire family into the camps. She was taken in retaliation for my activism here, as an American, and since that time I have had no news of her. Her own children were not told why she was detained, which camp she is held in, or how her current health is. Her two daughters are both US citizens, and our entire family are all agonized by this. We wonder how she is surviving while the Covid19 outbreak in Urumchi is so severe. We worry about her numerous health conditions. We wonder if she is being forced to make the clothing and shoes that adorn the bodies of our countrymen. I am wracked with guilt that using my freedom of speech and a democratic platform resulted in punishment for her, but this is the situation for millions of Uyghurs, and every Uyghur in diaspora has to weigh the choice of silence versus speaking out with the risk of losing family. Unfortunately, we have seen that silence has not saved anyone.

In June of this year, U.S. Customs and Border Control seized a 13-ton shipment of human hair imported from East Turkistan, referred to by the Chinese authorities as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The image of so much hair, manufactured via forced labor in the region, sent shockwaves through the international community as many were confronted for the first time with the visceral representation of how many lives this one shipment represented. The 13 tons of human hair is an evidence of Chinese communist regime’s genocide against Uyghurs. The reemergence of concentration camps and slavery is not merely a political issue, it is the human rights atrocity of the century, and the lives of the Uyghur people are at stake. The situation that is facing the Uyghur people amounts to genocide. I do not use this word lightly, but rather based on the rapid escalation of deliberate actions to exterminate the Uyghur people. Most disturbing of all is that many Western individuals, institutions, and corporations are directly complicit in the genocide as they benefit from what is the normalization of slavery in the modern age.

403 pages of leaked Chinese government documents that have been analyzed by scholars provide an unprecedented, inside view of the Chinese Communist Party’s racially targeted and brutal attitude towards the Uyghur people. It revealed the true reasons that are given for hauling people into the camps, including having too many children, calling a family member abroad, and other normal activities that should be within every human being’s rights.

After Xi Jinping came to power in 2013, the Chinese Communist government’s oppressive persecution in East Turkistan ramped up significantly. As a result, policies such as “punishment on the spot” are applied to Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic people. Under the present regime’s policies, any armed forces can shoot to kill if they feel that they aren’t following their orders. There is a news report from Radio Free Asia that a Uyghur teenager was shot to death by a traffic policeman when he ran a red light on his motorcycle. Special forces and armed police can raid Uyghur homes at any time, and search and arrest anyone as they wish. Imagine that; the police can raid in and search Uyghur families whenever they want and assault, sexually abuse and shoot the Uyghurs to kill during such raids and searches. If there is any resentment from the Uyghurs towards such unlawful brutalities by the Communist regime, they are called “terrorists”. China has characterized all political resistance as “Islamic terrorism,” and on that pretext developed a surveillance state built on DNA collection, ubiquitous cameras, facial-recognition software & GPS tracking devices on vehicles and concentration camps which all these lead to current genocide.

After Chen Quanguo was brought to East Turkistan from his post in Tibet in August 2016, he began his ruthless cultural and ethnic subjugations by arresting members of the Uyghur textbook committee and abolished Uyghur language textbooks. Next the Chinese government moved swiftly to silence famous or well-known Uyghurs in the public eye. This was done with the express purpose of completely eliminating anyone who might produce, extend or defend Uyghur ideology and values.

Since this initial sweep, Uyghur elites, philanthropists, successful businesspeople, intellectuals, professors, writers, journalists, doctors, academics, actors, entertainers, and athletes have also become targets, which blatantly contradicts the CCP’s narrative regarding the camps. Children have also become victims of China’s genocidal policies and experiments in social engineering, with news outlets reporting that over 500,000 Uyghur children have been taken away, held hostage in Chinese government-run orphanages, where they are indoctrinated, forced to abandon their Uyghur identity and swear loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party, while effectively being forced to recognize Xi Jinping as god.

A recent report by Dr. Adrian Zenz received a lot of attention for its groundbreaking analysis of the Chinese regime’s brutal interference in the reproductive rights of Uyghur women. Using information from Chinese government documents and data, it was revealed that the methods used, and plummeting birth rate could meet one of the conditions of genocide as laid out by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

Women have been especially victimized by the Chinese regime’s actions. They have been forcibly sterilized, had IUD devices forcibly inserted, and have been given unknown injections that stop them from menstruating and make them mentally sluggish. Women have testified to witnessing gang rapes of women in the camps. Outside the camps, women also face unspeakably restrictive choices. Under China’s double relative program, Chinese Communist Party cadres are moved into Uyghur homes to supervise them, and while the men of the house are in the camps, women are vulnerable to rape. They are also being forced into marriages with Han Chinese men, another clear indication of the Chinese regime’s colonialist goals of eliminating the Uyghur bloodline. Additionally, Uyghur youth who are of childbearing age and would normally be dating and starting their own families, are now forced to migrate to work as slaves in factories during the prime of their lives, unable to make choices about their personal lives. These crimes amount to government- sponsored mass rape. When we add these testimonies to the data analyzed by Dr. Adrian Zenz revealing an 89% drop in the birth rate in the two largest prefectures between 2015 and 2018 it is clear what is happening to the Uyghurs is beyond dire. Uyghur women are unable to give birth to Uyghur children.

According to the United Nations convention on genocide, the destruction of a part of the group as a victim, not all of it, is sufficient to meet the criteria of committing this crime. Qualitatively, the elimination of the majority of the group, that is, the comparison between already targeted number and the number of survivors is considered as a benchmark. If a reasonable rate is achieved, this will be considered sufficient to qualify as a genocide. The quality refers to the type of people targeted; group leaders, prominent individuals and important figures. The majority of the people targeted and sent to camps in East Turkistan are poets, professors, academics, writers and leading figures. Meaning, the list of acts which constitute genocide in the convention are done ‘in whole or in part’ in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan).

While China angrily denounces foreign journalistic coverage of the atrocities as lies, even going so far as to run smear campaigns against individual scholars like Dr. Adrian Zenz, they simultaneously fail to give any transparency or evidence to refute the condemning information. For the Uyghurs who bravely speak out or give testimony to the atrocities they have witnessed, they risk everything, as I myself well know. As long as Uyghurs are being punished for demanding the basic right to speak to family members, there can be no productive dialogue with China, and this should be used as a litmus test for any future diplomacy. If China cannot answer these Uyghurs in diaspora, why should they be allowed any seat at any international table? Nothing that they commit to has been followed through on. Repeated queries from our family have gone unanswered, as is the case for millions of other Uyghurs. The agony that our family has been through is incomprehensible to most human beings. In this modern information age, while China claims to be one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, this genocidal regime is being invited to build the world’s next generation telecommunications backbone. Meanwhile, millions of the Uyghurs cannot use the phone to talk with relatives abroad lest they be sent to the camps. How can China be permitted to serve as the main supplier of telephones to the world? How are we allowing past historical mistakes to be repeated in this manner?

By holding millions of Uyghurs into the concentration camps and as slaves in factories across China, the Chinese government has managed to give itself economic advantages by:

  1. Forcing millions of Uyghurs into slavery, forcing them to work on production, and jumpstarting the economy that has been affected by the pandemic.
  2. Dislocating Uyghurs from their homes, neighborhoods and towns, to reallocate Han Chinesesettlersandopen thelandfor theBeltandRoadInitiative,effectivelyshifting the demographic in the region.
  3. Jailing Uyghur men in camps and prisons and forcing unwed and abandoned Uyghur women into arranged marriages with Non-Muslim Han Chinese men with government gratifications such as money, housing and jobs. Leaving Neither the girls nor their families able to decline in fear of repercussion. This is also enforced because of China’s disproportionate male to female ratio due to the 1 child policy.
  4. Forcibly placing Uyghur children into state run orphanages for indoctrination regardless of whether their parents are alive.
  5. Desecrating sacred places for the Uyghurs, including ancient mosques and grave sites which are either demolished altogether or replaced with parking lots or restaurants and bars.
  6. And lastly Orchestrating Organ farms, where millions are forced to undergo DNA tests and prepped for slaughter. The human rights organizations in the world need to pay attention to and take the lead against the China’s Organ Slavery trade practices.

While the global atrocities that caused the international community to swear “Never Again” are most notable in their similarities to the development of current events, it is also worth noting that the history of the CCP, notably distinct from that of the history of China, has taught us many lessons in its short history. From Tiananmen to the Urumqi massacre, there has not been anything to indicate that China is opening up to true reform as the international community had hoped.

What I have shared in my testimony should give pause to our government here in the United States. I sincerely hope our government will continue to make top priority. How we respond to these atrocities will set the stage for whether or not other authoritarian regimes will model what they see China getting away with. China is exponentially increasing its persecution of other groups while it lacks consequences for its tyrannical actions with global reach.

While moves to ban imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan) are essential, it should also be recognized that supply chains outside of this region may be tainted by Uyghur forced labor. Additionally, the ways that the Chinese Communist Party has sought to normalize their ethics violations as concerns such global cooperative efforts as the Belt and Road Initiative should also be addressed.

Even seemingly innocent programs such as the “Friendship City” or “Sister City” programs in which many U.S. cities take part should be reevaluated. Rather than strengthening the type of relationships the program names might imply, these programs have been directly referenced by the CCP as being a key part of strengthening the Belt and Road Initiative. East Turkistan (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region)’s geopolitical significance for such an initiative should make clear yet another reason that the Chinese regime has refused to waiver from its genocidal actions.

Finally, I want to end on a personal note. As I have shared my family’s testimony it is essential that I reiterate that this is not an isolated incident, but it is the incident that I believe sheds light on the lies perpetuated by the Chinese Communist Party. China is not running these camps or

programs to provide “vocational training”, or to “prevent terrorism”. They are eliminating dissent. And if someone like my sister can be taken to punish her family members as U.S. citizens, how much longer will the United States continue to “raise the issues” without taking concrete action to isolate the dictatorial, tyrannical regime that has created our living nightmare?

In order to combat this stain of the century, I propose that the United States administration, the Committee on Ways and Means, and its members take the following actions:

  • Support the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
  • Support the enforcement of Global Magnitsky Sanctions on ALL members of the Chinese Communist Party as complicit in a political party that is directly carrying out ethnic cleansing
  • Continue to push for atrocity determination.
  • Press for urgent fact-finding mission to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan), during which China should grant unfiltered access for inspections.
  • Point out to the Administration that if China is successful in preventing action to deter the targeting of American citizens or to hold China accountable for the concentration camps and slavery of Uyghurs, this results in a win for the Chinese regime. The U.S. would be setting a dangerous precedent of inefficiency to confront this evident evil, and should any administration resume trade talks with China, it grants it the leverage needed to continue to lie and manipulate the international community rather than be held accountable for its crimes against humanity.
  • Push the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics out of China as giving them the honor of hosting is ultimately a green light to continue the genocide against Uyghurs.
  • Finally, the committee should pursue a full ban on ALL imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan), and should likewise ban ALL cotton imports from China. Further action should be considered in how to keep businesses choosing to maintain supply chains in China accountable.
  • The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan) should be declared a Forced Labor Zone as we did with all of North Korea in CAATSA legislation. That would demand due diligence to be allowed if any company wants to source products from Xinjiang to prove they are not using forced labor. The bipartisan bill should be passed immediately as multiple Withhold Release Orders by CBP evidence the need but cannot deal with the magnitude of the concentration camps’ forced labor. This step would recognize widespread forced labor, call out Beijing’s refusal to allow due diligence by companies to ensure clean supply lines, and provide the way out for China to choose by opening Xinjiang (East Turkistan) up for the world to see the end of the concentration camps’ forced labor.
  • Rather than merely recommending companies leave Xinjiang (East Turkistan) as a source for products, sanctions should be enforced if they have any dealing with those carrying out genocide against Uyghurs. Disney’s Mulan credits thanking the very security services locking people up by the tens of thousands shows you just how opposite the current reality is. One report noted the movie crew would have passed directly by seven concentration camps on its way to film in the desert!
  • Ban WeChat because China relies on it currently not just to surveil but to deliver threats to American citizens via taking their family members as hostages and forcing them to relay the demands of the security services. Shut down China’s ability to threaten our citizens.
  • Shut down TikTok not just because of its individually targeted mass surveillance, but because ByteDance already sent individuals to the concentration camps for filming themselves with pictures of their missing family members. ByteDance should have to answer for its actions shutting down Uyghurs’ accounts and identifying them to the authorities and should have to produce proof of life for those people whose silent testimonies the world heard loud and clear.
  • The first step in handling any such major crisis should have been to appoint a Special Envoy for Xinjiang (East Turkistan) who would work to end today’s concentration camps and separate the world from complicity. Don’t we have no diplomat in today’s times at the State Department who could be given the mission to save lives like John Pehle’s War Refugee Board was given in 1944 finally to save Jewish lives out of the Holocaust? There is a difference between speaking up belatedly and acting effectively with an empowered and official mission to meaningfully say “Never Again!” now when millions have disappeared into today’s concentration camps.
  • Find ways to force China to choose international trade rather than genocide. For years they get both together, making their genocide profitable. Sanction any trade going through the region until the camps are emptied.
  • Wider WROs for cotton and tomatoes imported from the region should be swiftly enforced. Concerns over the scale of impact this would have if we enforce such laws against the import of products of forced labor should be miniscule when compared with the weight of complicity in genocide.
  • There should never be any conflict between any trade deal and against China’s for enforcing sanctions against the labor camps. Removing China’s cheapest input to its trade advantage – forced labor – is the type of rules-based international trade that must be insisted upon, not something to bargain away in hope of monetary gain.

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Campaign for Uyhgurs

We defend the human rights of uyghur people and the free world by exposing and confronting the chinese government's genocide, and empowering uyghur women and youth in the diaspora.

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