U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has aimed heavy criticism at the State Department 2023 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report (pdf), claiming that it falls short of highlighting the genocide and forced labor of the ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China, and the exploitation of Cuba’s “medical brigades.”
On June 15, the State Department released its annual report on human trafficking. The TIP report assesses government efforts around the world to combat human trafficking and highlights strategies to address this crime and protect victims. This year’s report, the 23rd edition, includes narratives for 188 countries and territories, including the United States, according to the agency’s June 14 press release.
Speaking at the report release ceremony, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “The United States is committed to combating human trafficking because it represents an attack on human rights and freedoms.
“It violates the universal right of every person to have autonomy over their own life and actions. Today, more than 27 million people around the world are denied that right,” he added.
Together with another 9 countries, China and Cuba feature strongly in the section of the report titled “When the Government is the Trafficker: State-Sponsored Trafficking in Persons.”
The report section includes 11 governments with a “documented ‘policy or pattern’ of human trafficking, trafficking in government-funded programs, forced labor in government-affiliated medical services or other sectors, sexual slavery in government camps, or the employment or recruitment of child soldiers.”
However, no other details are provided on either the Chinese communist regime’s brutal repression of ethnic Uyghurs in China’s western province of Xinjiang, or the mistreatment meted out by the Cuban regime to its medical brigades.
Burying Human Rights Violations
“It is absurd and shameful that the State Department’s summary report fails to highlight two of the most alarming instances of modern-day slavery,” said Rubio in a June 15 statement.
“Starting with China’s acts of genocide against the Uyghur population, where individuals are subjected to forced labor and unjust mass detentions, as well as Cuba’s ‘medical brigades,’ which are nothing more than a profit-driven scheme led by the island’s criminal regime.
“Burying these human rights violations in the individual country reports means most people and reporters will assume the U.S. government does not take heinous crimes in China and Cuba seriously,” Rubio added.
The senator stressed that democratic nations worldwide have a moral duty to hold oppressors accountable, and that the United States must continue to lead by example in the pursuit of both justice and accountability.
Repression of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang Continues Unabated
The harsh repression of ethnic Uyghurs in China’s far-western Xinjiang region continues even after the United States and other countries have recognized the atrocities as genocide, according to Salih Hudayar, the prime minister of the East Turkistan government-in-exile. He is also an advocate for the human rights of the Uyghur people and for the independence of East Turkistan, also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
According to estimates from researchers, the Chinese regime has detained more than one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in internment camps in Xinjiang, where they are subjected to torture, rape, forced labor, and political indoctrination by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In 2020, the Trump administration declared Beijing’s repression of Uyghurs a genocide. The declaration was later echoed by nearly a dozen parliaments, including in the E.U., the United Kingdom, and Canada.
“But sadly, it hasn’t been enough to stop the genocide,” Hudayar noted.
“The Chinese government continues to carry out genocide, even in 2023. It continues to deny the fact that it’s carrying out genocide,” Hudayar told “China in Focus” on NTD, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times, on Jan 18.
Hudayar said that despite the CCP’s lifting of its strict “zero-COVID” policies nationwide, the situation in Xinjiang remains unchanged this year as the regime continues to build internment camps across the deserts of East Turkistan.
Hudayar highlighted the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in December 2021 and which went into effect in June. The act bans imports from Xinjiang unless companies can prove that the products weren’t produced using forced labor.
However, the advocate believes the legislation is not strong enough to end the practice of forced labor.
“We need to understand that it’s not just in East Turkistan [Xinjiang], the Chinese government is relocating Uyghurs en masse, forcibly relocating them to other provinces in China, where they’re continuing to be used as slave labor,” he said.
Another Group of Victims
According to China commentator Heng He, in the early years of the CCP’s persec
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