Remarks at a Meeting of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 21, 2018


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This is a very sad and disappointing day, to see this committee and, in particular, members of this committee who espouse to uphold the tenets of Islam, indulging in the Chinese delegation’s Islamophobia today, in which they conflate the effort of an individual to advance the religious and human rights of a persecuted minority in China with terrorism without providing any substantiated evidence. And I want to quote from the resolution of the NGO Committee and Consultative Relationships. And it requires that there exist “substantiated evidence.” That is also part of the rules of this committee. Evidence must be substantiated.

There seems to be a belief that the United States does not take its responsibilities as the host country of the United Nations headquarters very seriously – that we just let known terrorists enter the United States willy-nilly to come and hang out here at the UN without any regard for the safety of our own citizens. We have been hearing from the Chinese government for many years now about their accusations about this individual and the organization that he is affiliated with, the World Uyghur Congress, including the same kind of allegations they’ve made in this letter. We have repeatedly asked them to provide us with evidence substantiating these allegations. At no point have they ever provided us with any actionable intelligence that would indicate that what they are saying is true. At no point.

To this end, the United States has provided Mr. Isa – a German citizen in good standing, with no criminal record – a ten-year, multiple entry visa to the United States. Officials of the United States routinely meet with Mr. Isa. Again, if Mr. Isa were, in fact, an actual terrorist responsible for the many acts that the Chinese government has accused him and his organization of, does anyone in this room seriously believe? We have troops on the line – young American men and women on the line – in Syria right now fighting against ISIS and jihadist extremists. Do you seriously think we would be inviting this individual into this country and giving him free rein to travel about it? Give me a break. This is clearly an incident of the Chinese government using its position on this committee and its friends in this committee to engage in a reprisal against an individual.

I would like to read from an editorial in the Washington Post yesterday, describing how China treats the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. “China is undertaking a repugnant campaign to destroy the identity of a minority people, the Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang province in the far northwest.” There have been a number of well-documented articles. And this editorial goes on to quote them. “In a series of recent interviews…The Post and…the Associated Press [with] former prisoners in the camps describe mind-numbing drills in which they are forced to denounce their Uyghur culture as backward, to repudiate their Muslim beliefs, and to apologize for wearing long clothes, praying, teaching the Koran to their children, or asking imams to name their children.” Many of these reports were documented by looking at Chinese procurement requests on Chinese government websites, where they requested countries’ companies to participate in tender offers to build the concentration camps – I’m sorry – re-education camps that the Chinese are using to re-educate between several hundred thousand and a million Uyghur citizens of China.

This is what this is about today. Let’s please not make any mistake about what we are talking about today. This is not about the Society for Threatened Peoples and their contributions to the United Nations. This is about the temerity that they have to allow an individual who is silenced in China – and a whole community, frankly, that is silenced in China – to speak out on behalf of the rights of that community. Isn’t this what the UN is all about? Isn’t this whole organization here to promote self-determination also? I think that we owe it to ourselves as a committee and to the UN to ask the Chinese, if they have genuine evidence of this individual’s culpability of the acts of which he is accused, then they should produce that to DSS and make sure that he’s never allowed in the UN again or to the United States so that we can make sure that he’s not allowed in the United States again. But so far they have failed to do so. Therefore, accusing the Society for Threatened Peoples, a long-standing, well-regarded NGO of harboring a terrorist and promoting terrorism is beyond the pale today. This is just outrageous. And I would hope the Chinese would have the sense to withdraw this request before this goes any further.

Thank you.