U.K. Lawmakers Declare China Is Committing Genocide Against Uyghurs
April 22, 2021
The British House of Commons has approved a parliamentary motion declaring crimes against humanity and genocide are being committed against Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in China's northwest Xinjiang province.
The nonbinding declaration passed on April 22 does not compel the U.K. government to act, but is a sign of growing outcry among lawmakers toward the Chinese government.
At least 1 million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are believed to be held in camps in Xinjiang.
Numerous abuses have been documented in Xinjiang, including arbitrary detentions, forced sterilization of women, forced labor, and other systematic violations of basic freedoms.
The U.S. government and the parliaments of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada have accused Beijing of genocide.
In March, the United States, Britain, and Canada joined the European Union in announcing sanctions against Chinese officials and companies over human rights violations in Xinjiang.
The genocide label and Western sanctions have been met with swift condemnation and retaliation from China, which describes policies in Xinjiang as an internal affair. Beijing claims internment camps in the region provide vocational training and help fight Islamic extremism.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has avoided declaring a genocide in Xinjiang, although it admits "industrial-scale" human rights abuses are being committed. The government says any decision on declaring a genocide is up to national and international courts.
Conservative lawmaker Nus Ghani, one of five British lawmakers recently sanctioned by China for criticizing its treatment of the Uyghurs, insisted the government must take action.
"There is a misunderstanding that genocide is just one act - mass killing. That is false," she said, adding that all the criteria of genocide "are evidenced as taking place in Xinjiang."
Ghani said detainees at internment camps are subjected to "brutal torture methods, including beatings with metal prods, electric shocks, and whips," all part of a policy meant to "indoctrinate and 'wash clean' brains."
She added up to 2 million people are reportedly extrajudicially detained in prison factories and reeducation centers. She also said women in the region are subjected to forced sterilization and birth control to reduce the population of ethnic Uyghurs.
"I do not believe there is any other place on Earth where women are violated on this scale," Ghani said.
She said the Chinese government's own data showed that in 2014 over 200,000 birth control devices were inserted in women in Xinjiang, but by 2018 it had increased 60 percent.
"Despite the region accounting for just 1.8 percent of China's population, 80 percent of all birth control device insertions in China were performed in the Uyghur region."
Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith added: "Why haven't we declared this a genocide? I do urge the government to rethink their position on this."
Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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