AFT Resolution

China: Standing Against the Repression of Muslims in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region

WHEREAS, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region are facing systematic state-organized mass imprisonment, torture, population control and persecution amounting to genocide; and

WHEREAS, severe measures have been taken by Chinese authorities to eradicate religious traditions, cultural practices and local languages of the region’s Muslim ethnic groups, all carried out under the false guise of fighting “terrorism”; and

WHEREAS, in Xinjiang, Muslims are not free to practice their religion, as authorities show hostility toward any appurtenances of faith, including dress and even speech; basic religious and cultural practices deemed “extremist” are used as grounds for arrest; and mosques, shrines, gravesites and other cultural sites are being demolished or repurposed; and

WHEREAS, Chinese authorities have built one of the world’s most sophisticated and frightening surveillance and social control systems; it forces Muslims into a vast network of reeducation centers and forced labor camps throughout Xinjiang; both inside and outside the camps, Xinjiang’s Muslims are among the world’s most heavily surveilled populations; and

WHEREAS, these reeducation centers and forced labor camps are populated by hundreds of thousands who were displaced from their homes without warning or due process for “suspicious behavior” as minor as possessing a religious-themed picture or communicating with family abroad; and

WHEREAS, psychological and physical torture and forced labor are systemic in these internment camps, where every aspect of daily life is regimented to inculcate a secular, standardized acceptance of the Chinese nation and ideals; the fate of thousands of detainees is not known—many will remain in the reeducation centers or forced labor camps, while others will be given long prison sentences; and

WHEREAS, the Chinese government has gone to great lengths to cover up its egregious violations of international human rights law in Xinjiang—threatening, harassing or imprisoning dissenters who bravely speak out:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers strongly condemns China’s mass imprisonment, torture and persecution targeting Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang, as well as the extreme measures taken by Chinese authorities to erase religious and cultural traditions, and the egregiously false cover-up of the truth of this ongoing repression; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will urge Education International and Public Services International to join with human rights organizations in advocating that the International Labor Organization’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations send a team to Xinjiang to investigate human rights and worker rights violations tied to the repression of the Muslim population; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will communicate to the White House, National Security Council, Department of State and U.S. Congress the urgency of holding the Chinese government responsible for immediately dismantling the internment camps and reeducation centers, and ending systematic attacks against Muslims; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work with the AFL-CIO to frame a human rights-based resolution highlighting the repression of China’s Muslim ethnic minorities, for presentation at the International Trade Union Confederation’s World Congress to be held in Australia in 2022.