WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday afternoon, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice and the Uyghur National Movement, along with a number of Uyghur rights NGOs, joined members of the local Uyghur community in front of the Chinese Embassy seeking answers about and contact with missing family members likely detained in the Xinjiang region’s notorious “re-education camps”.
In a cruel attempt to silence internationally engaged activists and journalists, authorities have been ruthless in their attempts to capture and detain family members of prominent Uyghurs currently living and working in the United States. Included are the relatives of six Radio Free Asia journalists based in Washington, DC and more than 30 family members of exiled Uyghur leader, Rebiya Kadeer.
“Collectively punishing the families of anyone who speaks out, including my own family, has become the norm”, said Ms. Kadeer, who attended. “However, the Chinese government now appears to be practicing collective punishment over the entire Uyghur people, sending hundreds of thousands to so-called "re-education camps," which could be termed concentration camps. The world must stand up and demand that China release all the prisoners in the camps being held without charge simply because they are Uyghur."
Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett said, “I am proud to stand with Rebiya Kadeer and other members of the Uyghur community to demand contact with their families in China. The Chinese government’s brutal crackdown is cruel and uncalled for, and the US government must stand up and call these “re-education camps” what they are – another attempt to brainwash, intimidate, and imprison a proud and peaceful ethnic minority.”
Letters from local DC family members were collected during the event and left at the Chinese Embassy for delivery to the missing victims. Lantos Swett concluded by saying, “The disappearance of these prisoners has not gone unnoticed. Loving and dedicated family members in the US are fighting for their release and well-being. These individuals should know they are remembered, loved, and defended on a daily basis.”