Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at a UN Side Event on the Situation of Uyghur and Other Turkic Muslim Minorities in Xinjiang

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October 26, 2022


Thank you very much.

First and foremost, I want to thank the panelists who have shared their stories today. Your bravery and your inspiration is so inspiring to us. Ms. Ilham and Murat, I do want to assure you that your voices are being heard. Your voices do matter. And we feel the pain that you have shared with us acutely. We will continue to work with you and others to do everything possible to bring your loved ones back to you.

Let me also thank our civil society participants for your unwavering commitment to bring these human rights abuses to light.

The long-awaited United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on Xinjiang laid out the PRC’s human rights violations in horrifying detail: Forced confessions and stringent sentences for baseless charges; discriminatory detainment based on ethnic, religious, cultural identity and expression; cruel, inhumane, degrading punishment. And the reports of sexual- and gender-based violence left me with a pit in my stomach. Detainees describe horrific forms of sexual humiliation in the context of their interrogations – and these again, just show you the extent to which this regime will go to humiliate the people they are holding.

These and other findings leave no room for doubt: The PRC has committed gross violations of human rights. Their actions are, without question, crimes against humanity. The question before us is how will we respond?

Here is my response: The United States will continue to shine a light on the PRC’s genocide and crimes against humanity, against Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang. We will continue to push the PRC to fully implement the UN High Commissioner’s recommendations. And we will continue to stand with Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, and hold perpetrators accountable.

I am heartened to know that so many Member States, including those here today, are equally committed to this work.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins with the word “universal” for a reason. The UN Charter does not start with “We the United Nations.” It opens with “We the peoples of the United Nations.” People matter. Their universal human rights matter. And whenever and wherever people face persecution and have their fundamental human rights violated we have an obligation to speak out.

To that end, I would like to ask the experts on the panel, what more we can do to support the people of Xinjiang?

Thank you.

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