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Humanize Uighurs Need All the Help They Can Get

Originally published at National Review

China is the most effectively tyrannical country on earth and one of the most despotic in history. As if the COVID debacle and Hong Kong suppression weren’t enough, these days it is energetically suppressing religious belief — because to the Communist Party leaders, there can only be one source of truth and one locus of loyalty, and that is the State.

Hence, since the ’90s, Falun Gong have been rounded up and subjected to tissue typing and organ harvesting to supply the country’s black market in human livers and kidneys for transplantation.

China’s tech prowess is being harnessed to construct a “social credit system,” that deploys AI and facial recognition technologies to target Christians (among all others) merely for going to church and practicing their faith. Score too low, and you not only lose your job and abode, but the right to ride on public transportation. Most insidiously, so do your children.

At the same time, the Muslim Uighurs, who mostly live in the Xinjiang Province of northwestern China, are being subjected to an old-fashioned pogrom. More than one million Uighurs have been forced into concentration camps, where they are treated with brutal disregard for their rights as human beings.

How bad is it? Congress has finally stirred to do something about it and passed a bill that starts the admittedly weak effort to do something about it. From SB 3744:

Those detained in internment camps in Xinjiang Uyghur [sic] Autonomous Region have described forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings, food deprivation, and denial of religious, cultural, and linguistic freedoms. These victims have confirmed that they were told by guards that the only way to secure their release was to demonstrate sufficient political loyalty. Poor conditions and lack of medical treatment at such facilities appear to have contributed to the deaths of some detainees, including the elderly and infirm.

The bill urges the president to “condemn abuses against Uyghurs” and to “call on such authorities to immediately close internment camps; lift all restrictions on, and ensure respect for human rights, and allow people inside the People’s Republic of China to reestablish contact with their loved ones, friends, and associates outside the People’s Republic of China.”

As a remedy, the bill calls on the Secretary of State to “consider strategically employing sanctions and other tools under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998” against those engaged in the abuse of the Uighur community and issue a report to Congress within six months.

Considering the extent of the evil, it’s weak soup. But it’s a start, and the president should engage this issue forcefully once it becomes law.

Meanwhile, the private sector should begin to pull back their operations from China so that they do not find themselves complicit in such unadulterated evil. Frankly, I believe that the threat of losing commerce and manufacturing would have a greater chance of mitigating the suffering of faithful people in China than government protests and bureaucratically imposed sanctions.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.