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Rep. Young Kim, Ami Bera Bipartisan Bill to Support Uyghurs Against PRC Abuse Passes Committee

September 30, 2021

Washington, DC – Today, the Uyghur Policy Act of 2021 (H.R. 4785) passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The bipartisan bill to support the human rights of Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is led by U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-39), who serves as Vice Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Nonproliferation, and Subcommittee Chair Ami Bera (CA-07).

The Uyghur Policy Act of 2021 creates a comprehensive, multilateral strategy with concrete steps to raise international awareness of the persecution of Uyghurs, empower the State Department to effectively respond to human rights challenges in the XUAR, and push back on the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) efforts to silence Uyghur voices. 

Congresswoman Kim spoke in today’s hearing in support of the bill, which now heads to the House floor. The Uyghur Policy Act of 2021 builds on Congresswoman Kim’s efforts to promote human rights for all people in China and around the world. 

“No one should feel unsafe because of their religious beliefs or ethnicity. Unfortunately, millions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups are repeatedly silenced, detained, imprisoned, tortured and brainwashed by PRC officials,” said Congresswoman Young Kim, Vice Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation.  “The United States must send a united, clear message against these gross human rights abuses. That is why I’m proud to lead the Uyghur Policy Act of 2021 with Chairman Bera and thank my Foreign Affairs Committee colleagues for joining us to condemn Beijing’s inhumane treatment and stand with the Uyghur population. I urge House leadership to bring this bipartisan bill to the floor soon so we can take concrete steps to support Uyghurs and other groups subject to the PRC’s disinformation, coercion and abuse and support human rights and freedom around the world.”

"Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are routinely silenced, detained, and tortured due to their religious and cultural identity. Despite broad international condemnation, the Chinese Communist Party continues to suppress the most basic rights of the Uyghur community," said Representative Ami Bera, M.D., Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation. "The Uyghur Policy Act reaffirms America’s commitment to defending democratic values abroad and bolsters our response to these atrocities by ensuring interagency cooperation on Uyghur issues and providing the State Department with the resources to effectively respond to this crisis. I am proud that this bipartisan legislation has passed out of committee, and I look forward to it being passed out of the House.”

“The U.S. government has led the global response to atrocities committed against Uyghurs, but even more must be done to ensure the continued response is as effective as possible. This legislation is essential to address the need to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to respond to the Uyghur crisis. Uyghurs look to the United States to lead the global effort to hold China to account for these atrocities, and this legislation will help enhance such an effort,” said Omer Kanat, Executive Director, Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Millions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups residing in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) continue to be victimized by state-sponsored genocide and the PRC’s “reeducation” campaign. In addition, the PRC utilizes its global network of embassies and consulates, as well as its representatives at the United Nations, to track down Uyghurs living abroad and intimidate them or force their return to China. 

As of passage, the Uyghur Policy Act of 2021 has 42 bipartisan cosponsors. Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Nonproliferation Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Chabot (OH-01) and Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Ronny Jackson (TX-13), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Val Demings (FL-10), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), David Cicilline (RI-01) and Dina Titus (NV-01) joined Reps. Kim and Bera as original cosponsors of the bill.

The Uyghur Policy Act of 2021 would: 

  • Create a Special Coordinator for Uyghur Issues within the State Department; 
  • Direct the U.S. Agency for Global Media to disseminate information concerning Uyghurs and other minority groups in the XUAR to Islamic majority countries; 
  • Require the State Department to offer Uyghur language training to Foreign Service Officers and to assign a Uyghur-fluent officer to a U.S. diplomatic or consular mission in China; 
  • Call on the U.S. Government to develop a strategy, in coordination with like-minded countries, to pressure the PRC to close all detention facilities and push for the immediate release of those detained; and, 
  • Support U.S. efforts to raise Uyghur issues at the United Nations, including by supporting the appointment of a special rapporteur for the XUAR for human rights violations and abuses.