RELEASE – New Report to United Nations Brings to Light Extreme Persecution of Uyghurs in China

Save the Persecuted Christians | June 16, 2020

In Advance of UN General Assembly, Save the Persecuted Christians Coalition Partner Jubilee Campaign Submits Report on Inhumane Treatment of This Marginalized Group

WASHINGTON—Those persecuted for their beliefs may often feel silenced, unable to speak up or speak out about the inhumane treatment they experience because of their faith.

But several advocacy groups are working to bring to light these atrocities by submitted reports to the United Nations in advance of theGeneral Assembly in September.

Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, in coordination with several coalition partners, has spearheaded the submission of several reports to the UNGA on Eliminating Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief and the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16). UNGA 75 will open Sept. 15, and the first day of the high-level General Debate will be Sept. 22.

According to the UN, “In many parts of the world, the attainment of SDG 16 to achieve peaceful, just and inclusive societies is challenged by circumstances of increased fragility, social tensions and conflict. In his 2019 report on the progress towards the SDGs, the Secretary General expressed concerns at ‘the uneven advances in ending violence, promoting the rule of law, strengthening institutions and increasing access to justice, which continues to deprive millions of their security, rights and opportunities and to undermine the delivery of public services and broader economic development.’”

“The United Nations General Assembly in September is a chance for our coalition partners to bring to light the global scourge of persecution for religious beliefs,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. “China especially has been particularly cruel and calculating in its attacks to those who worship and believe in ways contrary to the Communist Party. The unwarranted attacks on the innocent simply for their closely held beliefs must end.”

Ann Buwalda of the Jubilee Campaign, a Save the Persecuted Christians coalition partner, submitted a report on the Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China.

Her report to the UN further shared that an overwhelming majority of detained Uyghurs in Xinjiang have been apprehended for no crime other than their profession of a minority religion. For example, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ China Cables’ project reveals that police officials and government authorities use “predictive policing” as a tactic for identifying individuals deemed subversive to the state.

“Surveillance such as facial recognition technology, phone hacking and warrantless searches through belongings has led to the arbitrary detention of millions of Uyghurs who were targeted simply for using phone apps to download electronic versions of the Quran and disseminate religious scripts to their peers,” Buwalda said.

Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that conditions within the detention centers and concentration camps unjustly holding Uyghur and Kazakh Muslims are deplorable. In 2019, Amnesty International released a report that documented some of the human rights violations experienced by Uyghur family members of interviewees in the United States, revealing that food deprivation is a common form of punishment for individuals who do not comply with the rules or make significant progress throughout their re-indoctrination.

“Amidst the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, numerous reports have stated that food insecurity has worsened throughout prison camps in Xinjiang due to the massive crackdown on transporting materials to prisons,” Buwalda added. “Interestingly, prior to the novel coronavirus outbreak, food shortages were common at certain locations due to the local government of Urumqi essentially cracking down on Halal meat, another example of the targeting of religious minorities.”

Outside the detention centers, the situation for Uyghurs in Xinjiang is just as bad. Due to quarantine and national lockdown, essentially the entire province of Xinjiang has been struggling in terms of finding food to feed the communities. In February, two disturbing videos were released by Uyghur Human Rights Project exhibiting just how dire the situation is. In one video, a Uyghur man is seen agitated and exclaiming “I’m starving. I’m starving. My wife and children are starving. Three people are starving in my house.” He is then seen repeatedly banging his head into a metal post. In another video, a woman asks an elder Uyghur man why he is out of his house during the lockdown. The man respond that he is looking for food, asking “What’s a person supposed to eat when they get hungry? What should I do, bite into a building?”

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has recently released a report that reveals the extent to which the Chinese government control Uyghurs’ right to freedom of movement, and such restrictions have escalated to the point of denying Uyghurs the right to a passport. The extent to which lack of legal documentation negatively effects the livelihood of Uyghurs should not be underestimated; passport confiscation and denial “impacts … livelihoods, marriages, living situations, studies and freedom of movement.”

Through its report to the UN, Jubilee Campaign is urging the government of China to adopt these best practices to ensure the enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief for the Uyghurs: 

  • Formally recognize Uyghur Muslims and other religious minorities, granting them full civil rights.
  • Take measures to release all religious prisoners of conscience from the detention centers, on the grounds that they have no formal charges against them and that keeping them in detention centers could put them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • Ensure Uyghur prisoners are able to meet their lawyers and other legal representative council (albeit virtually amidst the spread of COVID-19) in accordance with the universal right of due process. 
  • Ensure that there is non-discrimination of access to food supplies by ensuring food is being routed to Xinjiang Province, and especially the detention centers within this province, where food insecurity is reported to be increasing. 
  • Stop all forms of abuse, including physical and mental, and all forms of torture that are occurring within the detention centers in Xinjiang.
  • Cease the practice of confiscating and denying passports to expatriate Uyghurs as a means of punishment for their escape from China, which has led to statelessness among the expatriate Uyghur population all around the world.

The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.

With so much of the world’s Christian population being imprisoned and/or harassed for their beliefs, such as faith groups in China, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’sSaveUs Movementis working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christiansendeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.


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