On Wednesday, June 17, Uyghur rights activists around the world celebrated as President Trump signed the “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020” into law after it was near-unanimously passed by both houses of Congress. According to the Uyghur Human Rights Project, it is the first law anywhere in the world to address the unconscionable human rights abuses being enacted against the Uyghurs in China.
For years, the Chinese government has been abducting, isolating, and brainwashing innocent people because of their religious beliefs. In March, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute released an explosive report revealing a sickening new twist to the terrifying saga: many of these already-tortured Uyghurs are being rented as slave labor to Chinese manufacturers producing products for well-known American companies. These heinous acts against the Uyghurs have been continuing for years, and the world has only recently started to pay attention.
While this legislation is a big deal for raising awareness and putting pressure on China, the law itself is not a full solution. At this stage, it imposes some sanctions and requires various government entities to monitor and report on the situation. This could lead to more direct action down the line, but for now, private companies and mainstream institutions must step up and act responsibly to help.
Many of you have already joined us in calling on Apple to stop working with factories that employ the forced Uyghur labor, but if you haven’t, please do. Many of you also joined us in calling on American foundations and universities to stop investing their endowments in Chinese companies that provide the tech used to carry out these atrocities. You further helped us call out the NBA when they took a stand on American equality issues while turning a blind eye to China’s.
We will keep a close eye on the situation, but we implore every American company that does any kind of business with China to make absolutely sure that they are not participants in this oppression. Ignorance is no longer an excuse or a defense.
New Tolerance Campaign is proud to be a part of the progress being made to address the Uyghur situation in China. But, for the million-plus Uyghurs living this horrifying reality every day, progress isn’t coming fast enough. We must do everything we can to end their suffering now, and part of that means pushing those with the power to coerce the Chinese government, like Apple and the NBA, to act quickly and decisively.