UK Parliament declares genocide in China’s Xinjiang


But the government has steered clear of declaring genocide over what it says are “industrial-scale” human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim Uyghur community in Xinjiang, reports Asian Lite News

Britain’s parliament called for the government to take action to end what lawmakers described as genocide in China’s Xinjiang region, stepping up pressure on ministers to go further in their criticism of Beijing.

But the government again steered clear of declaring genocide over what it says are “industrial-scale” human rights abuses against the mainly Muslim Uyghur community in Xinjiang. Ministers say any decision on declaring a genocide is up to the courts.

So far the government has imposed sanctions on some Chinese officials and introduced rules to try to prevent goods linked to the region entering the supply chain, but a majority of lawmakers want ministers to go further.

Beijing denies accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Lawmakers backed a motion brought by Conservative lawmaker Nusrat Ghani stating Uyghurs in Xinjiang were suffering crimes against humanity and genocide, and calling on government to use international law to bring it to an end.

The support for the motion is non-binding, meaning it is up to the government to decide what action, if any, to take next.

Also read – Uyghur movement needs more global support

Britain’s minister for Asia, Nigel Adams, again set out to parliament the government’s position that any decision on describing the human rights abuses in Xinjiang as genocide would have to be taken by “competent” courts.

Some lawmakers fear Britain risks falling out of step with allies over China after the Biden administration endorsed a determination by its predecessor that China had committed genocide in Xinjiang.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Meanwhile, the US government, is under pressure to urge like-minded countries to independently investigate and formally determine whether the abuses in Xinjiang meet the definitions of genocide and/or crimes against humanity under international law, and work together to take measures to hold China accountable.

The US Congress should support legislation to promote religious freedom in China, including the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, the The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended.

Also Read – Report on Xinjiang reveals China’s dark side

Last year, the report said, religious freedom conditions in China had deteriorated.

The government intensified its “sinicisation of religion” policy, particularly targeting religions perceived to have foreign connections, such as Christianity, Islam and Tibetan Buddhism.

The authorities also continued their unprecedented use of advanced surveillance technologies to monitor and track religious minorities, and the Measures on Managing Religious Groups became effective in February, further constricting the space in which religious groups could operate.

Quake-affected people have a meal at a temporary settlement in Jinghe County, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Li Jing/IANS)

In September 2020, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute had identified 380 detention centres across the Uyghur region (otherwise known as Xinjiang), including new facilities built in 2019 and 2020.

This indicates that the Chinese government has continued to detain Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims despite claiming to have released all the detainees.

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Since 2017, authorities have reportedly sent millions of Muslims to these camps for wearing long beards, refusing alcohol, or exhibiting other behaviours deemed signs of “religious extremism”.

Former detainees reported torture, rape, sterilisation and other abuses in custody. Experts raised concerns that the Chinese government’s ongoing actions in Xinjiang could amount to genocide under international law.

Demand for US to skip Winter Olympics

Meanwhile, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has asked the US government not to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing if the Chinese government continues its crackdown on religious freedoms of minorities in China.

In its annual report, the USCIRF recommended the Joe Biden administration to redesignate China as a “country of particular concern”, or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).

The Commission asked the US government to publicly express concerns about Beijing hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and state that US government officials will not attend the games if the Chinese government’s crackdown on religious freedoms continues.

It has also recommended the US government to enforce to the fullest extent the existing US laws — such as the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act and Tibetan Policy and Support Act — and continue to impose targeted financial and visa sanctions on Chinese government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom.

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