Resilience Refugees

Jewish groups push Biden to take more action on Uyghur genocide in China

Members of the Uyghurs community, a mainly Muslim ethnic group originating from central and east Asia, rally against the Chinese government at the U.S. State Department on September 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.  Kevin Dietsch/ Getty

Story at a glance

  • More than 200 Jewish organizations sent a letter to President Biden asking him to take more action against China over its genocide of Uyghur Muslims.
  • In January 2021, the U.S. State Department said China had been committing crimes against humanity against Uyghurs since at least March 2017.
  • The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum also published a report with research and analysis of how the Chinese government has forcibly assimilated Uyghurs.

A group of Jewish organizations has sent President Biden a letter urging him to do more to oppose the Chinese government’s genocide of ethnic Uyghurs.

In January 2021, under former President Trump, the U.S. State Department declared that since at least March 2017 China has been committing crimes against humanity against Muslim Uyghurs and other members of ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. The State Department described those crimes as arbitrary imprisonment, forced sterilization, torture of those arbitrarily detained, forced labor and restrictions on freedom of religion, expression and movement.

The State Department estimated more than 1 million civilians have been arbitrarily imprisoned. 

Now, more than 200 Jewish organizations, rabbis and synagogues have sent a letter to Biden and top U.S. officials asking them to oppose the Chinese government’s genocide of ethnic Uyghurs, according to Axios.

“The horror stories we are hearing of Uyghurs taken in the night, separated from their families, and put on trains to forced labor camps are all too familiar to the Jewish community,” said the letter, according to Axios.


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The Adas Israel Congregation based in Washington, D.C., led the effort behind the letter to Biden and has consistently been dedicated to the Uyghur crisis. It organizes monthly demonstrations at the Chinese embassy with other D.C.-area synagogues to keep up awareness of the crisis. It also offers support to local Uyghur communities through mental health resources and provides pro bono counseling to Uyghur refugees.  

“We also advocate for governmental and business actions to counter this abuse of human rights, including a letter to President Biden signed by over a hundred Jewish communal leaders,” said the Adas Israel Congregation website. 

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum also recently published a report that showcased research and analysis of how the Chinese government has sought to forcibly assimilate Uyghur Muslims and said, “in recent years the Chinese government’s intrusive mass surveillance of the community has intensified, and the networks of government-run detention centers and prisons in Xinjiang have expanded significantly, resulting in the mass incarceration of between one to three million people, primarily Uyghurs.”

The museum says that it seeks to do more for victims of genocide today than what was not done for the Jewish people of Europe. 

The letter comes shortly after the White House announced the U.S. would not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in China. 

During a Dec. 6 press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden feels the U.S. has, “a fundamental commitment to promoting human rights. And we feel strongly in our positions and we will continue to take actions to advance human rights in China and beyond.”


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