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12-07-08, 11:02
Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC)
Co-Chairs’ Press Release:
For immediate release

Contact: Hans Hogrefe
Dan Scandling

CHRC Co-Chairmen Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) Condemn Harsh Pre-Olympic Crackdown in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China; Express Serious Rule of Law concerns regarding reported Executions and Shootings by Police Force.

Washington, D.C. – CHRC Co-Chairmen Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today strongly condemned the harsh pre-Olympic crackdown in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China. The Co-Chairs also expressed their strong concern over credible media and human rights reports detailing abuses of due process and rule of law in the July 9th conviction in a closed trial of 15 Uyghurs on terrorism charges, which resulted in the immediate execution of two Uyghurs, three suspended death sentences, and ten sentences to life imprisonment. In addition to the terrorism charges, the 15 Uyghurs were also convicted of theft, espionage, illegal religious teachings, the transportation of explosives, and the viewing of illegal videos.

On the same day, police in Urumchi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, reportedly killed five Uyghur men who authorities claim were part of a 15-member criminal gang, who were alleged to have trained for “holy war.”

Xinjiang’s population of 18 million includes several Turkic-speaking Muslim ethnic groups, of which the roughly eight million Uyghurs are the largest. Similar to the Tibetans, Uyghurs are struggling for cultural survival, facing harsh repressions by the Chinese authorities.

Said CHRC Co-Chairman Jim McGovern: “Credible human rights reports, including our own State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices, have documented for years now the abuse by Chinese authorities of the War on Terrorism to justify the crackdown on any form of peaceful dissent by Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The international community and our government have repeatedly called on China to fully implement minimum international legal standards, particularly in cases involving the death penalty. To this day, executions take place immediately after sentencing, trials are totally closed off to any observers and still happen in total secrecy. China clearly fails in its obligations under international law and certainly fails in its commitments to improve human rights as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games. To address these concerns, China must allow minimum standards of international law, and must open trials to independent observers.” Added CHRC Co-Chair Frank Wolf: “The Chinese government should not be permitted to use the War on Terror or Olympic security as a front to persecute the Uyghurs. These ‘trials’ appear to be no more than a ploy to oppress religious freedom and ethnic minority groups. We have seen the Chinese government carry out similar actions against Buddhists in Tibet. I call on the Chinese government to uphold the commitments they made to the international community when they were awarded the privilege of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games and improve their deplorable human rights record.”