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Uyghur News Recap: March 17–31, 2023

Qelbinur Sidik, a member of China's ethnic Uzbek minority who was forced to teach Chinese in Uyghur detention facilities, testifies during a special House committee hearing dedicated to countering China, March 23, 2023, in Washington.
Qelbinur Sidik, a member of China's ethnic Uzbek minority who was forced to teach Chinese in Uyghur detention facilities, testifies during a special House committee hearing dedicated to countering China, March 23, 2023, in Washington.

Former Uyghur propaganda chief dies just days after release from prison

Ilham Rozi, a former Uyghur propaganda chief for Beijing, died at age of 57, just five days after his release from prison on separatism charges, according to a report by Radio Free Asia. The cause of Rozi's death is unknown and details surrounding his transfer to a nursing home for the elderly, where he died, remain unclear.

Xinjiang's US exports plunge to a record low since enactment of Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

Exports from China's Xinjiang region to the U.S. dropped to below $1 million in February, marking a 90% decline compared to the same month last year, and the lowest level since 2017. The drop follows the enactment of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in June 2022, which banned American imports of all products from Xinjiang unless conclusive evidence shows that no forced labor was involved in their production.

Uyghur, Uzbek survivors testify to torture, rape, sterilization in Chinese camps

Uyghur and Uzbek survivors of Chinese internment camps in Xinjiang testified March 23 before the U.S. House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. One schoolteacher revealed harrowing details of how adult Uyghurs were taken to concentration camps, where they were subjected to torture, rape, psychological warfare and sterilization. Since 2017, over 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities are believed to have been held in detention camps, which the Chinese government denies.

TikTok CEO dodges questions on Uyghur genocide at hearing

TikTok CEO Shou Chew refused to answer questions regarding China's Uyghur persecution during a March 23 House committee hearing, Yahoo News reported. Despite Representative Debbie Lesko's repeated inquiries, Chew avoided giving a direct answer and maintained that he was present solely to discuss TikTok. Chew also confirmed that the platform does not delete content associated with the Uyghur genocide and Tiananmen Square massacre. The company faces a potential nationwide ban due to national security concerns.

Uyghur groups urge ICC to investigate alleged genocide in Xinjiang

Two Uyghur groups based in Washington have called on the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, for alleged genocide and other crimes against humanity committed in Xinjiang. In a dossier submitted to the Netherlands-based court, the groups presented evidence of forced family separation, the abduction of Uyghur and other Turkic children, systematic campaigns of forced sterilization, mass internment, forced labor, forced marriages and transnational repression.

Rights group urges Beijing to end repression of minorities in Xinjiang, Tibet

Amnesty International has released its annual report on global human rights, covering 152 countries worldwide. The report states that the global community has failed to address human rights issues and highlights double standards around the world that lead to impunity and instability. The report also sheds light on China's repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, calling for the country to respect and protect human rights.

China's Muslims face restrictions on religious practices during Ramadan

Radio Free Asia reported that China's Muslim population is experiencing restrictions on religious and cultural practices during the holy month of Ramadan. In the Xinjiang region, the report says authorities are instructing Uyghur parents not to allow their children to fast and have implemented 24-hour monitoring of Uyghur families. The report says Hui Muslims have enjoyed a measure of religious freedom until President Xi Jinping launched a new campaign against religious practices.

US probes major automakers, suppliers over links to Uyghur forced labor

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee is probing the use of forced labor in auto supply chains in Xinjiang and is sending letters to major auto makers and top auto suppliers in the U.S., including Tesla, General Motors and Bosch, seeking information on their sourcing and supply chain oversight in China. The probe follows a U.S. crackdown on goods from Xinjiang, where Uyghurs and other minorities are believed to be coerced to work in factories.

News in brief

A Chinese government tourism video showcasing the second largest mosque in Xinjiang has come under fire from Uyghur human rights activists for its alleged disrespect toward Islam and Uyghur culture. The video features two Uyghur women dressed in exotic dance costumes performing a dance routine inside the mosque, which is viewed as a violation of Islamic principles and Uyghur traditions.

US officials discuss combating Uyghur forced labor

Senior Hudson Institute fellow and chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Nury Turkel, along with Robert Silvers of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, discussed the regulatory and reputational risks faced by Chinese companies in forced labor and how the U.S. government can address this issue globally.

Quote of note

"Desecrating a holy place of Uyghur, which is also a historical and cultural site for Uyghurs, and showing the dancing scene inside a mosque, the Chinese government is not only proving that the cultural genocide is real, but also insulting the Islamic faith of Uyghurs and human dignity." – Ilshat Hassan Kokbore, a Uyghur American political analyst and vice chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress, on the video of women dancing inside a Xinjiang mosque.