Divest GWU from the Uyghur Genocide

Divest GWU from the Uyghur Genocide

February 6, 2022
Petition to
President of the George Washington University President Mark S. Wrighton and
Signatures: 493Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

We, the undersigned students and student groups at George Washington University, having been compelled to act by recent displays of hatred and ultranationalism, call for divestment of the University endowment from companies complicit in the Uyghur genocide, as well as additional measures to protect the rights and well-being of students.

As evidenced by the findings of the independent Uyghur Tribunal, the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against the Uyghur people. [1] The U.S. government and others around the world have further declared these crimes to be a genocide. [2]

More than one million Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples are interned in the largest system of concentration camps since the Second World War.  Forced labor has become institutionalized both within Xinjiang and elsewhere in the People’s Republic of China. [3]

Beyond forced imprisonment, both men and women endure rape, torture and property destruction. Intellectuals, such as Dr. Gulshan Abbas, are specifically targeted, and mosques are destroyed and graveyards paved over. Up to 500,000 Uyghur children have been forcibly separated from their parents. [4]

These abuses do not end at China’s borders. Uyghurs living outside China face systematic harassment and surveillance designed to silence them or coerce them into returning to the People’s Republic of China. Universities have been at the center of this campaign, with students on U.S. college campuses often facing surveillance, manipulation, and coercion from proxies of the People’s Republic of China. Officials of the Chinese government have sought to silence criticism of their policies on U.S. college campuses by pressuring university administrators to stifle student speech. The George Washington University, and all U.S. universities, have obligations to protect their students and to act as moral leaders. We cannot delay further action, starting with our own university.

Let us be clear: we condemn the immoral acts of hatred, xenophobia, and racism that the AAPI community has endured, particularly in recent years. There is a consequent need for understanding and solidarity between those inside and outside of the George Washington University and its AAPI community. We further seek to distinguish between the perpetrators of human rights abuses in China and the Chinese people. 

We recognize that the culture, history, and very identity of China is not subject to any monopoly of the Chinese Communist Party; self-definition by the Chinese people includes diaspora communities and those from diverse perspectives, and must not be dictated by thinly-veiled fascists. We further recognize the need to stand with those affected in the AAPI community, particularly the Uyghur people.

Therefore, we the undersigned demand:

(1) That the University investigate its endowment fund and all other sources of revenue for investments in companies and other entities complicit in the genocide of Uyghurs, including companies that benefit from forced labor or provide materials used in their repression, and divest from all such investments.

(2) That the University investigate its research partnerships and other collaborations for ties to entities involved in the mass surveillance, genetic sequencing, or forced labor of Uyghurs, or other forms of repression. 

(3) That the Board of Trustees and President Wrighton meet with us to advocate for the human rights of Uyghurs, the protection of the rights of students, and the obligations of universities by initiating divestment according to the standards laid out above. 

(4) That President Wrighton and the University outline and implement a public strategy–in line with Human Rights Watch’s 12 Point Code of Conduct [5]–to protect the rights of students, and particularly international students from the People’s Republic of China, whose rights to free speech are threatened, and who face overseas monitoring, intimidation, and coercion.


The G.W.U Committee on Divestment from the Uyghur Genocide
The George Washington University College Democrats
The George Washington University College Republicans
The Uyghur Human Rights Initiative at GW Law
The Athenai Institute

We anxiously await your response at GWUyghurDivestment@gmail.com

# # #

[1] “Uyghur Tribunal Judgment.” The Uyghur Tribunal, December 9, 2021. https://uyghurtribunal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Uyghur-Tribunal-Summary-Judgment-9th-Dec-21.pdf

[2] Wong, Edward and Chris Buckley. “U.S. Says China’s Repression of Uighurs is ‘Genocide.’” The New York Times, January 19, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/19/us/politics/trump-china-xinjiang.html

[3] Allen-Ebrahimian, Bethany. “Exposed: China’s Operating Manuals for Mass Internment and Arrest by Algorithm.” ICIJ, November 24, 2019. https://www.icij.org/investigations/china-cables/exposed-chinas-operating-manuals-for-mass-internment-and-arrest-by-algorithm/

[4] Zenz, Adrian. “Break Their Roots: Evidence for China’s Parent-Child Separation Campaign in Xinjiang.” The Journal of Political Risk 7, no. 7 (July 4, 2019).

[5] China: Government Threats to Academic Freedom Abroad | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org). https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/03/21/china-government-threats-academic-freedom-abroad


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Signatures: 493Next Goal: 500
Support now