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Hearing Testimony: “The Chinese Communist Party’s Ongoing Uyghur Genocide”

Simon-Skjodt Center director Naomi Kikoler delivers testimony to the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. Seated next to her is Gulbahar Haitiwaji, a Uyghur and survivor of the Chinese concentration camps. —Leigh Vogel for US Holocaust Memorial Museum

On March 23, 2023 Simon-Skjodt Center director Naomi Kikoler delivered this testimony to the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. You can also read Ms. Kikoler's full written testimony submitted to the Committee to learn more about the mass atrocities the Chinese government is committing against the Uyghurs and what can be done to prevent further crimes.

Thank you Chairman Gallagher and Ranking Member Krishnamoorthi for holding this important hearing today to shed light on the plight of the Uyghur people.

Mr. Chairman, I will summarize my statement, but would like to ask that my full statement and the Museum’s 2021 Report: “To Make Us Slowly Disappear:” The Chinese Government’s Assault on the Uyghurs be ordered part of the record. In addition, I would like to submit to the Committee the pictures and stories of Uyghurs speaking in interviews with the Museum about the unknown fate of their family members, and ask that they will also be made part of the record.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum seeks to do for communities today what was not done for the Jews of Europe. 

The words “Never Again” were meant to be a lasting commitment, no matter how challenging—including when a superpower like China is the perpetrator. 

When most people think of genocide, they think of places like Auschwitz-Birkenau where one million Jews were systematically killed. 

The Chinese government is using subtler tactics to intentionally destroy the Uyghur people: mass surveillance and detention, torture, transfer of children, separation of men and women, and restrictions on reproductive capacity. 

And these are crimes that impact all, but in particular women, who have for too long been overlooked as the intentional targets of genocide. 

The Chinese government is failing in its legal obligation to prevent genocide. 

What then, does upholding “Never Again” mean in this context? 

First and foremost, the Chinese government must halt its crimes, release detainees, and allow unfettered access to independent monitors into Xinjiang.

The scale of the crimes against Uyghurs is daunting. And we know that confronting the crimes of a powerful perpetrator will be difficult. 

The United States alone cannot prevent these crimes. 

We must work with other governments, Uyghur civil society, and the private sector to develop a swift, coordinated and global strategy to protect the Uyghur community. Thus far, no such strategy exists. 

For more than a decade, it has been official US policy that "preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility."

To live up to this commitment, we must minimally pursue these three prongs:

  1. Degrade the capacity of perpetrators to commit further atrocities, for example, via expanding and strengthening enforcement of financial sanctions targeting commercial entities that are supporting China’s repressive policies and export controls on advanced technologies.

  2. Persuade perpetrators to stop committing atrocities, for example, by promoting accountability including through the creation of an independent impartial investigative mechanism to collect, preserve and analyze evidence.

  3. Protect Uyghurs outside China, for example, by providing asylum and refuge from transnational repression.

This is our moment to abide by values that the American people hold dear.

This is our moment to abide by US strategic interests. 

On visiting the Holocaust Museum, people often ask themselves, “What would I have done if I had been alive during the Holocaust?” 

Let history guide us so that today we ask: “Now that I know what the Chinese government is doing to the Uyghurs, “What will I do?”

This is our “Never Again” moment.