Spokesperson Heather Nauert’s Statement on Xinjiang

You may see that we have more guests than usual, and our guests are sitting here in the front today. And I couldn’t be more honored to have him – them here at the State Department. They are Uighur journalists. They report for Radio Free Asia. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with them for about close to an hour yesterday, where I heard many of their stories. Many of their stories are incredibly heartbreaking – what they have been through, and what their families have been through – most importantly, perhaps – as a result of their work to report the facts of the world into their home country.

So I’d like – with that, I’d like to announce that the United States has become increasingly concerned by the increasing levels of repression in Xinjiang, China. Just yesterday, I met with these six U.S.-based reporters whose Uighur family members have been threatened and dozens of their family members have been detained, simply because they were doing their jobs – the jobs that you all can do freely every day here in the United States, most of you without repercussions to your families overseas, those of you who do have overseas family members.

I’d like to recognize them today. First, we have Mamatjan Juma. Is Mamatjan – he’s here. With Radio Free Asia, Uighur service journalists. Next we have Shohret Hoshur. Shohret, please stand up. Thank you. Also from Radio Free Asia. Next we have Alim Seytoff. And you’re all in order, too. Thank you. (Laughter.) That makes it easier. So organized. And Rohit Mahajan. Thank you so much.

Our State Department officials – one of our State Department officials, our deputy assistant secretary, was in China earlier this week, and she reported a little bit about what is going on in this situation that paints a very disturbing picture in China. We are increasingly concerned about excessive restrictions on freedom of religion and freedom of beliefs in China. We are also concerned about China’s efforts to pressure other governments into forcibly returning Uighurs to China or to coerce family members. And finally, we are concerned about the widespread detentions and the unprecedented levels of surveillance.

We are grateful to these brave Radio Free Asia journalists for their work. We want them to know that we will continue to raise our deep concerns with the Chinese Government. We call on China to end their counterproductive policies and freely – and free all of those who have been arbitrarily detained.

I’d like to mention that one of their colleagues – who’s not here today, I spoke with yesterday – shared with me that 23 members of her family have been round up in recent years. Imagine that. You’re here doing your jobs in the – your job in the United States, and 23 members are round up as a result. It was a very illuminating conversation, and I would like to be able to introduce any of you who are interested into these brave – to these brave Radio Free Journalists after the briefing, or whenever you’re available and they’re available too.
So thank you for honoring us with your presence, and we’re proud to be here raising attention to your cases. Thank you.