Salih Hudayar

Yellen Must Demand End to Uyghur Genocide During Beijing Visit

Secretary Yellen should use her visit to Beijing as an opportunity to condemn China's ongoing Uyghur genocide
Members of the Uyghur community in Washington, DC, demonstrate in front of the White House, demanding action from the Biden Administration against China's ongoing Uyghur genocide. (Photo credit: East Turkistan National Movement)

In the enduring spirit of “never again,” etched deeply in the collective memory of the Jewish people and all humanity, we face a contemporary chapter of human atrocity that demands our unwavering attention and action. From April 3 to April 9, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen will undertake a crucial official visit to China, meeting key Chinese business and political leaders. This visit is not merely routine diplomatic engagement; it signifies a profound opportunity to address one of the most pressing human rights crises of our time—the genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan (referred to as “Xinjiang” by Beijing).

As the world navigates the complexities of U.S.-China relations, Secretary Yellen’s role extends beyond fiscal policies and economic strategies, touching the very core of human dignity and the global commitment to justice—a commitment deeply ingrained in the struggles of oppressed peoples like the Uyghurs. In recent Congressional testimony, Secretary Yellen stated, “Well, I absolutely agree with you that Treasury and the Biden administration should be sanctioning human rights violations occurring in Xinjiang, and there is no appeasement.” Yet, despite the U.S. Government recognizing China’s atrocities against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic peoples as ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity, China continues to commit genocide with impunity in 2024 as the international community fails to take meaningful actions to hold it accountable.

The atrocities committed against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan are not mere allegations but well-documented facts, supported by reports from credible human rights organizations, firsthand accounts from survivors, satellite imagery, and official Chinese government statements, including leaked documents. These sources paint a harrowing picture of mass internment, enslavement through forced labor, systematic rape, organ harvesting, torture, physical and cultural eradication, and pervasive mass surveillance. The intent behind these actions is clear: to erase the identity and existence of a people and to quash any semblance of dissent.

The evidence is overwhelming, and the narratives are heart-wrenching, mirroring the darkest chapters of human history, including those known all too well by the Jewish community. Reflecting on the lessons of the Holocaust, we are reminded of the importance of speaking out against injustice and standing in solidarity with those facing genocide. The Uyghur genocide represents a test of humanity’s collective conscience and its commitment to human rights and dignity principles.

Secretary Yellen’s role in this pivotal moment extends beyond economics. It is a moral imperative that she uses her influence to advocate for the rights and dignity of the Uyghur people. This means not only condemning the atrocities in East Turkistan but also taking concrete steps to hold the Chinese government accountable.

As Secretary Yellen prepares to engage with Chinese leaders, she carries the hopes and aspirations of millions who have suffered under the Chinese government. Her words and actions during this visit will reverberate far beyond diplomatic chambers, shaping history and defining our time’s legacy.

Appeasing the genocidal Chinese Communist Party amid an ongoing genocide is not only morally reprehensible but also politically and ethically wrong. It would be synonymous with appeasing the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. The CCP, under Xi Jinping’s leadership, bears striking similarities to the Nazis, with its fascistic tendencies and systematic persecution of marginalized populations and ethnic groups. To stand idly by or to appease such a regime would betray the principles of justice and humanity that America holds dear.

One crucial step to counter this moral quandary is imposing targeted sanctions against Chinese officials and entities directly involved in the Uyghurs’ persecution. This includes entities like the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), the Government of the puppet “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” as well as the Chinese Ministry of Public Security,” all whom are central to implementing China’s genocidal policies in East Turkistan. Additionally, the U.S. must call on the international community to take meaningful action, such as bringing the Chinese State before the International Court of Justice and support East Turkistan’s complaint urging the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Chinese officials, including Xi Jinping, for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Furthermore, this includes further implementing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to ensure that no goods made with the forced labor of enslaved Uyghurs enter the United States. Such measures will uphold democracy and human rights values and send a strong message that the international community will not tolerate China’s egregious actions.

Moreover, the United States should urge other democratic nations to implement similar measures to hold the Chinese government accountable. By coordinating efforts and standing united against the genocide in East Turkistan, the U.S. can lead the international community to demonstrate its commitment to justice and human rights, sending a clear message to the Chinese government that its actions will have consequences. It is imperative that we act swiftly and decisively to end the Uyghur people’s suffering and hold those responsible for their persecution accountable for their crimes.

American officials must recognize that appeasing China not only diminishes America, making it appear weak and losing respect in the international community, but also emboldens China and other authoritarian regimes. The United States must uphold its values of democracy and human rights, especially in the face of short-term economic interests, to maintain its moral authority and influence on the world stage.

Secretary Yellen should use her visit to Beijing as an opportunity to condemn China’s ongoing Uyghur genocide and rally international support for East Turkistan. By building a coalition of like-minded nations committed to democracy, human rights, and freedom, the United States can amplify its voice and increase pressure on the Chinese government to end the Uyghur genocide.

The time for action is now. China’s ongoing Uyghur genocide is a stain on the conscience of humanity, and it is incumbent upon all people of conscience to stand up and speak out against it. As Secretary Yellen prepares to engage with Chinese leaders, let her remember the words of Elie Wiesel, himself a Holocaust survivor: “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Let us not be silent in the face of injustice. Let us stand together in solidarity with the Uyghur people and demand an end to the genocide in East Turkistan. And let us hold Secretary Yellen accountable for turning her words into action and ensuring that justice prevails for the sake of all oppressed peoples.

About the Author
Salih Hudayar is the leader of the East Turkistan National Movement and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Security of the East Turkistan Government in Exile. A refugee and tireless advocate, he champions the rights and self-determination of Turkic peoples in East Turkistan.
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