More than 30 human rights organizations urged Secretary Pompeo to stand up for Xinjiang and impose Global Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials

September 17, 2018

Today, Vietnam Coalition Against Torture (VN-CAT) joined 33 other NGOs and human rights organizations in sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, urging them to impose Global Magnitsky sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet. This multi-faith initiative is led by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VCMF).

Marion Smith, Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, said: “The CCP is committing cultural genocide against both the Uyghur and Tibetan ethnic minorities in China. They are incarcerating a million people in Xinjiang in a 21st century gulag and surveillance state—the scale of these abuses is unconscionable and the United States must respond.”

Earlier this year, the Foundation submitted to the State and Treasury Departments a list of Chinese officials who should not be allowed to travel to the United States and all of their properties within U.S. jurisdiction should be blocked. By imposing the Magnitsky sanctions on the violators, the US will send a strong message to the CCP that its human rights abuses will not be tolerated.

On April 3, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith — the co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China — in their letter to the U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad called the network of political education centers in Xinjiang “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”

For decades, the Tibetans have been subjected to the same tactics of cultural genocide. Even though both Tibet and Xinjiang are considered “autonomous regions,” in reality they are entirely controlled by Beijing. The CCP vigorously implements policies aiming to destroy the Uyghurs’ and Tibetans’ religion and language. The ethnic nomads are forcefully removed while influx of Han Chinese, encouraged by favorable treatments and the most liberal residency rules in China, has significantly changed the ethnic makeup of the regions.


September 17, 2018

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Pompeo:

We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to sanction all Chinese officials responsible for the horrendous human rights situation in Tibet and Xinjiang, also known as East Turkestan. We commend the State Department for calling attention to this issue in its first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, and concur with the Ministerial’s Statement on China, which strongly urges “the Chinese government to protect the religious freedom of all individuals and to respect the human rights of all members of religious groups in accordance to China’s international commitments to respect freedom of religion.” We believe the United States can best pressure China by using the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to punish the officials responsible for these egregious human rights violations.

Tibet and Xinjiang are considered “autonomous regions,” but in reality, they are entirely controlled by Beijing. The People’s Republic of China has made a mockery of human rights, and established concentration camps the likes of which are found elsewhere only in North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is engaged in a full-scale campaign of cultural genocide against the Tibetans and Uyghurs, and it is time for the United States to take action. 

According to the United Nations, the CCP has incarcerated 1 million Uyghurs in so-called “reeducation” camps, and as many as 2 million have been forced to undergo “reeducation and indoctrination.” The Congressional Executive Commission on China claims that this constitutes “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.” Tahir Hamut, a Uyghur Muslim who left Xinjiang for the United States, recounted during the Ministerial how his people are “now living in horror” of being thrown into these camps, where they are beaten, tortured, and forced to consume alcohol and pork, both of which are anathema to observant Muslims.

Mr. Hamut also said that “there are unprecedented restrictions on the religious lives of Uyghurs.” Even “free” Uyghurs living in their own homes face a life of fear and surveillance. During Ramadan, the CCP embeds officers in Uyghur homes to make sure they don’t pray or fast. Xinjiang is one of the most surveilled regions in the world, with the CCP investing more than $1 billion in security investment projects in the first quarter of 2018 alone. Officials like Chen Quanguo, Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang and previous Party Secretary of Tibet, are directly responsible for carrying out these brutal orders from Beijing. 

The situation is just as bad in Tibet. Since invading and annexing Tibet in 1950, the CCP has murdered around 1 million Tibetans; destroyed 6,000 Buddhist monasteries; forced 100,000 Tibetans into exile; and ruined 80% of Tibet’s forests. The Chinese police state is so pervasive that Tibet has been described as “harder to visit than North Korea.” Yet the CCP is not content with merely controlling the Tibetans’ land; it must control their religion as well. For over half a century, the Dalai Lama has been living in exile from his homeland, and the Panchen Lama, who is the second most important religious authority in Tibetan Buddhism, was abducted by the Chinese over twenty years ago when he was only six years old; his current whereabouts are unknown. This state of oppression has tragically caused more than 150 Tibetans to lose all hope, and set themselves on fire to protest the abuses they face.

China will continue its atrocious abuse of human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang until the free world pushes back. We must show those officials responsible for enslaving innocent people that neither they nor their assets are welcome in the United States until these abuses cease. By imposing stringent sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, the United States can send a powerful message that the world will not stand by as the CCP abuses its people.


21st Century Wilberforce Initiative


Bitter Winter

Boat People SOS

Buddhist Solidarity Association

Center for Pluralism

Center for Studies on New Religions

Chen Guangcheng Foundation

China Aid

Christian Freedom International

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

Church of Scientology National Affairs Office

Committee for Religious Freedom in Vietnam

The Council of Peoples and Religions of Vietnam

Initiatives for China

International Campaign for Tibet

International Christian Concern

International Interfaith Peace Corps

International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees

The Junior Sacerdotal of Caodai Council

The Junior Sacerdotal Council of the Third Amnesty of God of Tay Ninh Holy See

Keep Taiwan Free

Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice

Love Your Neighbor Community

Magnitsky Global Justice Campaign

Religious Freedom Institute

Students for a Free Tibet

Union of Councils for Jews in the former Soviet Union

Uyghur American Association

Uyghur Human Rights Project

Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

Vietnam Coalition Against Torture

Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

World Uyghur Congress

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