Current and former American officials say the Trump administration is weighing the possibility of sanctioning Chinese senior officials and companies for the detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in internment camps, the New York Times reports.
The alleged detentions have primarily targeted the Uighur ethnic minority, which is primarily made up of Sunni Muslims and other minority Muslim populations.
U.S. officials are seeking to inhibit China from monitoring the Uighurs by limiting sales of surveillance technology used by Chinese security agencies, the Times reports.
On August 29th, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin requesting that sanctions be applied and for additional measures to be taken against government officials.
The Republicans wrote that they are “concerned about the ongoing human rights crisis in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where Muslim ethnic minorities are being subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restriction on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored.”
On Sunday, Human Rights Watch released a report estimating the number of detainees could be as high as one million and that “[w]ithin these secretive facilities, those held are forced to undergo political indoctrination for days, months, and even over a year.”
Chinese officials claim the camps are for “vocational education and employment training centers,” or are for “criminals involved in minor offenses,” according to Human Rights Watch.
“The scale of it — it’s massive,” Rubio said of the Muslim detention centers in an interview. “It involves not only intimidating people on political speech, but also a desire to strip people of their identity — ethnic identity, religious identity — on a scale that I’m not sure we’ve seen in the modern era.”