Finally, atrocities committed by CCP in Xinjiang are officially called by their name in the United Kingdom.
by Ruth Ingram
The sickening atrocities being committed in Xinjiang that have become the shared nightmare of millions of Uyghurs both at home and in exile have finally been named and shamed in a historic vote by UK lawmakers.
“Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity” was the unanimous verdict of parliamentarians on Thursday as they considered the deliberate and systematic extermination of the Turkic peoples of North West China by the Chinese Communist Party.
Impassioned speeches from the floor of the House of Commons backed the motion brought by MP Nusrat Ghani, who has championed the Uyghur cause during a series of recent ping-pong debates over a genocide amendment to the trade bill forbidding business with genocidal states.
Unsuccessful by a hairs breadth in that fight, the tables were turned this week with resounding unanimity as MP’s cited the “obliteration” of the Uyghurs, the “forcible separation of families and indoctrination of children in state orphanages,” the “surveillance and intimidation of Uyghur exiles living abroad,” and “persecution on an industrial scale,” to prove genocide.
MPs heard how each of the five determinants of genocide as set out in the Genocide Convention are taking place in Xinjiang.
The catalogue of human rights abuses carried out under the guise of the “War on Terror,” which escalated in 2016 upon the arrival of Chen Quanguo, a new governor to the region have resulted in several million, mostly Uyghurs, being herded into purpose-built internment camps without trial or legal representation, for indeterminate lengths of time. Many have died in the camps, countless numbers following their release and hundreds have disappeared altogether. Mass sterilizations, torture, removal of children to orphanages, attempts to eradicate Uyghur religion, culture and language are well documented.
Activists and organizations from every political and religious affiliation have been campaigning for months to raise awareness of the plight of the Uyghurs who are unable to speak up for themselves. Exiled Uyghurs have spoken out about the agony of watching the dismantling of their culture and the heartache of not knowing the fate of their husbands, wives and children, or whether they will ever see them again. Crowds of them gathered outside the Houses of Parliament to urge MPs to join the USA, Canada and the Netherlands in standing up to Beijing.
Despite the British government’s refusal to back the vote, claiming that genocide can only be determined by “competent” courts, and its non-binding nature unless ministers decide to take it forward, supporters were jubilant and celebrated the significant milestone.
MP Yasmin Qureshi said, “today’s vote must mark a turning point. No one can still deny the scale of the abuses taking place in the Xinjiang region.” But she urged a seed change within the heart of the government to challenge its trade policies towards China. “That this government is pursuing deeper trade ties with China while these abuses continue is unthinkable,” she said.
US, European and Australian voices added their backing for the courage of UK lawmakers, but warned against complacency. Kimberley Kitchen, Australian co-chair Senator of the Inter Parliamentary Alliance on China, IPAC, an international cross-party group of legislators working towards reform on how democratic countries approach China, said that condemning the abuses was not enough. “Today’s vote in the British Parliament is a clear sign that the world is waking up to the suffering of the Uyghur people. The international community can no longer be idle in the face of this brutal repression,” she said, adding, “So long as governments fail to take meaningful action to hold those responsible to account then these atrocities will continue. We only need to look to history to see where this ends,” she said.
Democratic nations around the world were urged not to “stand idly by” while the horrific abuses continued. US Senator Marco Rubio praised some of them for calling out China’s brutal persecution of the Uyghurs, but called on sustained pressure to “hold the CCP to account.”
A fact-finding mission to Xinjiang was vital, urged IPAC co-chair, Canadian Irwin Cotler, more sanctions were needed on key Chinese officials and entities, all goods produced by forced labor should be banned, and unfaltering pressure applied to see the internment camps dismantled and the atrocities halted.
“The work does not stop here,” declared Nus Ghani. “We have a solemn obligation under the Geneva Convention to act to prevent further atrocities from taking place. History will not judge us kindly if we fail to do so.”