6.28.2021
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Statement in Solidarity with the Uyghur Community

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights strongly condemns the perpetration of gross violations of human rights against Uyghur and other Muslim minority communities in China. 

The Government of the People’s Republic of China is conducting an operation of systematized internment, mass surveillance, and brutal torture of hundreds of thousands of Muslim minority men and women. Uyghur and other Muslim minority groups have been forced to abandon religious traditions, cultural practices, and local languages. Mosques, shrines, gravesites, and other religious and cultural sites have reportedly been systematically demolished or repurposed.

Amnesty International documented the ways in which these atrocities rise to the level of crimes against humanity, including through brainwashing as well as physical torture in the form of beatings, electric shocks, solitary confinement, deprivation of food, water and sleep, exposure to extreme cold, and the abusive use of restraints including torture tools like tiger chairs in the camps. They also report that both inside and outside the internment camps, these communities are “among the most heavily surveilled populations in the world.” Human Rights Watch similarly concluded that these atrocities amount to the crime against humanity of persecution, and they are “a deliberate effort to deprive Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims of their most fundamental rights, to snuff out their culture and their religion.” 

The atrocities have been found to violate China’s obligations under a number of international human rights laws and standards, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2020, 50 UN independent experts raised their grave concern over the collective repression of specific communities, including religious and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang where many Uyghur communities live. Several governments including the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands consider that these crimes rise to the level of genocide as defined under international law. 

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights supports the recent call by several civil society organizations to the UN to take decisive actions toward China’s human rights practices and protect the Uyghur community. As Robert Kennedy believed, “no longer can any people be oblivious to the fate and future of any other.” We stand in solidarity with the Uyghur and other Muslim minority communities in China, and urge an immediate end to their oppression.

Lead image: Uyghur women surround a Chinese riot policemen as they protest in Urumqi on July 7. (RFE/RL)