SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mitt Romney called video of what appears to be Chinese police loading blindfolded ethnic Uighurs onto trains in northwest China “absolutely sickening.”
“Uyghurs being bound and blindfolded, loaded onto a train headed for modern day concentration camps. Absolutely sickening. The U.S. must partner with our allies to put a stop to the human rights atrocities being committed by the Chinese Communist Party,” the Utah Republican tweeted Friday along with the short video.
The footage purportedly shows dozens of blindfolded Uighur men with their heads freshly shaved and their hands tied behind their backs during a mass transfer at a train station in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwest China.
According to Australian Broadcasting Corp., which posted a story about the video last September, Nathan Ruser, a satellite analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute verified the footage as authentic. Ruser estimated it was shot in April or August in 2018 at a train station west of the city of Korla.
Millions of Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim group based primarily in China’s Xinjiang province, have allegedly been subjected to mass persecution by the Chinese Communist Party.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, visited western China where there is a large Uighur population several years ago. He said he had the sense then that widespread oppression was going on and has accelerated the past four years, and “it needs to stop.”
“There’s no question in my mind that there are gross, flagrant abuses of human rights going on,” he said. “It is both a racial and an ethnic form of discrimination and a religious form of discrimination.”
Uyghurs being bound and blindfolded, loaded onto a train headed for modern day concentration camps. Absolutely sickening. The U.S. must partner with our allies to put a stop to the human rights atrocities being committed by the Chinese Communist Party. https://t.co/4fDeUhJUj4— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) July 17, 2020
Lee said the United States can’t and won’t simply ignore flagrant abuses of human rights.
“China needs to get its act together, and if it doesn’t, the consequences are going to be even more dire than they’re now facing,” he said.
Romney said last week that the Chinese government is on a mission to wipe out Uighur families, culture and religious adherence. He called evidence of forced sterilizations and other acts of violence against Uighur women especially heinous.
Romney and Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, called for sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the mass incarceration of more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs and Muslim minorities.
Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, co-sponsored a bill that directs the president to impose sanctions and export restrictions related to China’s treatment of the Uighurs. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law last month.
McAdams and Romney were among 78 members of Congress who signed a bipartisan letter urging the secretary of state and the treasury secretary to issue a formal declaration of ongoing atrocities, including crimes against humanity and genocide.
“These human rights abuses demand a response from the United States as well as the international community because evidence strongly indicates that the Chinese government is intentionally working to destroy and essentially wipe out Uighur families, culture and religious adherence and encouraging violence against women,” the letter says.