US lawmakers introduce bill to prioritise refugee status to Uyghurs

Washington DC: US Senators Marco Rubio and Chris Coons on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation wherein people of China’s Uyghur minority community facing government repression would become eligible for prioritised US refugee status.

“The Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act would make it easier for Uyghurs and members of other Turkic or Muslim minority groups to apply for resettlement in the United States, and it encourages our allies and partners to implement similar policies,” Coons, a Democrat, and his Republican colleague Rubio said in a release on Tuesday.

The lawmakers introduced the legislation after leading a bipartisan group urging US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take additional measures to aid Uyghur and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang Province.

The release said that similar legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives by Congressmen Ted Deutch and Mario Diaz-Balart.

“The United States must continue to speak out against the PRC’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and we must also provide assurance and protection for the Uyghurs and all those facing persecution as a result of their religious or ethnic identity,” said Senator Coons, co-chair of the Senate Human Rights Caucus.

“To effectively compete with China, we must be the best version of ourselves, including by living our values and welcoming those who have been unjustly imprisoned in or forced to flee Xinjiang,” Coons added.

Senator Rubio said that urgent action is needed to end the atrocities and assist Uyghurs and others facing persecution in Xinjiang.

“As the CCP is committing egregious human rights violations, including genocide and crimes against humanity, urgent action is needed to end the atrocities and assist Uyghurs and others facing persecution in Xinjiang,” said Senator Rubio.

China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghurs. Beijing has been accused of sending its Muslim minority to mass detention camps to undergo forcible re-education or indoctrination.

Beijing, on the other hand, has denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, according to a report.