“As far as we know, no one has been killed,” claims a prominent UK politician whose naysaying views on Uyghur persecution have shocked Uyghur exiles.
by Ruth Ingram
Pouring scorn on the term “genocide” to describe the atrocities being meted out on the Turkic peoples of Northwest China, Sir Vince Cable, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, speaking at a webinar last week organized by the London Chamber of Commerce, disparaged claims that millions of people had been detained by the CCP in Xinjiang, and urged rapprochement with the superpower.
Parroting the December 2019, Grayzone pro-China news website’s vilification of foremost Xinjiang researcher Adrian Zenz and his findings, which claimed Zenz had extrapolated his figures from interviews with a mere eight Uyghur individuals, Cable also cast doubts on claims of “indefinite detention,” saying that his research had found people were held for “an average of only eight days.”
The well-known China admirer, described by the weekly China newsletter, Beijing to Britain, as having carved a role for himself as a China “dove” since leaving Parliament, has consistently pushed for engagement between the UK and China, while skimming over human rights questions raised by the CCP’s actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. “The view in the West is that there is suppression of an ethnic group,” he said. “The Chinese view is that this is the China war on terror.”
Reiterating his doubts in the UK’s Independent newspaper last week in a piece entitled, “Shouting at China over Alleged Uighur Genocide Won’t Help—the West Must Find a Way to Work with Them,” Sir Vince drew more ire from Uyghur supporters when he called for “skepticism” in assessing claims of genocide and cruelty.
“For those of us who are not lawyers this looks a little like trying to devise a crime that will fit the accused,” he said, finding it strange that only Western governments had ganged up against China. “One would have thought that democratically elected governments in Muslim majority countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Pakistan might have been quick to join in,” he said, ignoring the obvious indebtedness these countries have towards Beijing. “But they have declined,” he said.
Rahima Mahmut, London chief of the World Uyghur Congress, lay down the gauntlet for a face-to-face meeting with Sir Vince. “I would like to issue an open invitation to Sir Vince Cable to meet with me and other Uyghur survivors. I feel sure that once you have heard what our people are suffering firsthand, you will do everything in your power to bring that suffering to an end.”
Co-executive director of the advocacy group Yet Again, Kirsty Robson, called Sir Vince’s rebuttal of the abuse “nothing short of disgusting,” and hoped that MPs would speak against the “horrific genocide denial.”
Dr Ewelina Ochab, academic and co-founder of Genocide Response, condemned Cable’s assessment of CCP actions in Xinjiang in the same vein as she and a group of eminent lawyers had made to the Economist publication’s genocide denial last year, when they said, “It accomplishes nothing to reject such an analysis of the evidence and using euphemisms out of fear of upsetting the state perpetrating genocide.” She called on Cable to stop ignoring allegations of genocide. “We challenged the Economist. The same arguments apply to your analysis,” she said in her Twitter feed of June 29th.
MPs Layla Moran and Alistair Carmichael strongly disagreed with Cable in their own Twitter feeds. Dissociating the views of her own Liberal Democratic Party from his stance on the Uyghurs, Moran said, “We have repeatedly called out gross human rights abuses in Xinjiang. There is a genocide happening before our eyes. We cannot and will not avert them, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.”
Carmichael, speaking as Chair of the All-Party Group on Uyghurs, strongly disagreed with Sir Vince’s assessment of the abuses against the Uyghur people. “We can debate the ‘correct’ level of engagement with Beijing without abandoning the idea of universal human rights,” he stressed.
Abduweli Ayup, featured in Bitter Winter following the death of his sister in detention, Rushan Abbas, whose sister was sentenced to twenty years, simply for being the relative of an activist, Akida Pulat whose mother, Uyghur folklorist Rahila Dawut, disappeared into thin air four years ago, and the hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs with no one to speak for them who have been languishing in illegal detention for years, are living testaments to the truth of mounting evidence of brutal subjugation of their people.
According to Luke de Pulford, of the Arise Foundation, Cable’s views were an affront to Uyghur survivors. He called out the Independent newspaper for publishing the “Xinjiang denialism,” which he condemned as “illiterate of the law,” and deeply flawed in its analysis.