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USCIRF Warns that Forced Sterilization of Uyghur Muslims is Evidence of Genocide

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) warned that the Chinese government’s repressive population control measures against Uyghur and other Muslims—including forced sterilization—might meet the legal criteria for genocide under international law.

“It’s evident from the Chinese government’s own data that the Communist Party’s policies are clearly designed to prevent population growth for the Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Turkic Muslim peoples,” said USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel. “We urge the State Department to investigate whether the Chinese authorities’ deliberate and systematic attempt to genetically reducing the Turkic Muslim population in Xinjiang meets the legal definition for genocide as contemplated in the Genocide Convention. We also call on the U.S. government to introduce a resolution at the U.N. on these crimes that the Chinese Communist Party has committed against the Uyghurs and other Muslims in China.”

Under Article II(d) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” is considered evidence of genocide.

Since 2017, the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has detained more than a million Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Muslims, often targeting individuals engaged in religious practices, such as growing beards or wearing veils. According to leaked government documents, many individuals were detained because they had too many children. As stated by newly published research, the Chinese government’s sterilization policies have led birth rates in Xinjiang to plummet 24 percent last year. In addition, nearly half a million Muslim children have been separated from their families and placed in boarding schools, where they have been forced to denounce Islam and speak Mandarin.

“It is absolutely horrifying that the Communist Chinese government is targeting a religious community for forced sterilization in the 21st century,” noted USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “We urge President Trump and the U.S. government to swiftly impose targeted sanctions under the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act against the officials responsible for this heinous policy.”

In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF called upon the administration to use its authority under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the International Religious Freedom Act to impose targeted sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for severe religious freedom violations, especially Chen Quanguo, the current Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang.

In February 2020, USCIRF released a factsheet explaining how the Chinese government’s new Administrative Measures for Religious Groups could further restrict religious freedom.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at or Danielle Ashbahian at

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