UK condemns China over Uyghur brutalities
Commons discuss Xinjiang alarming situation, all 11 speakers narrate ‘hair-raising’ inhuman torture on helpless Chinese Muslims and other ethnic communities, urge govt to take firm action to protect them from torment
“Over million Uyghurs have been extra-judicially detained. We have repeatedly urged China to end these disproportionate and damaging policies which we denounce”; says Minister Nigel Adams
Nation special report
LONDON: UK Government strongly condemn the actions of the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang. China is pursuing policies that deny the Uyghur people their right to freedom of religion or belief, freedom of speech and freedom of association.
This was stated by Nigel Adams MP, Minister for Asia while responding volley of questions and winding up the debate on Xinjiang issue at the House of Commons on Wednesday (September 9).
The debate was initiated by Labour Member of Parliament from Birmingham Shabana Mahmood and all together 11 members expressed their views. They were including Shabana Mahmood (Lab), Zarah Sultana (Lab), Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Lab) Ms Nusrat Ghani (Con), Rushanara Ali (Lab), Jim Shannon (DUP), Imran Ahmad Khan (Con), Nigel Adams (Minister for Asia), Katherine Fletcher (Con), Mary Robinson (Con) and Navendu Mishra (Lab). The speakers were very concerned over the prevailing situation in that part of China and urged the government to take appropriate measures to facilitate the relevant people. The lawmakers told the House hair-raising stories of torture meted by the Chinese people.
Minister Nigel Adams said that one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been extra-judicially detained. We have repeatedly urged China to end these disproportionate and damaging policies, and I repeat that call from the Dispatch Box today.
“It is in the interests of China’s international reputation and the long-term stability of Xinjiang that China honours its commitments to its own constitutional provisions on freedom of religion or belief and to the universal declaration of human rights”, he added.
He said that It is precisely because we respect China as a leading member of the international community that we expect it to live it up to its own international obligations. Its human rights obligations are no exception to that, so we urge the Chinese Government, without further delay, to change course and meet their commitments for every single one of their citizens.
Referring the question raised by Shabana Mahmood, he explained that it is our long-standing policy that the determination of genocide should be made only by a competent court rather than by Governments or non-judicial bodies. However, we are closely monitoring those developments. She also mentioned what we have done in terms of holding China to account. As I have said, we have raised this issue now twice in a joint statement at the UN. I do feel that this is a subject that needs to be raised in the House in a longer forum than a half-hour Adjournment debate.
Nigel Adams said thatour diplomats visited Xinjiang in November 2019, and their observations supported much of the recent open-source reporting on the region and reports by non-governmental organisations.
“China’s initial response to allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang was to deny the existence of the camps. After a significant amount of evidence was reported and international attention increased, that position became untenable. It now describes the camps as education and training facilities. China claims that they are part of a legitimate and necessary policy to prevent extremism, and it has repeatedly dismissed international concerns, claiming that the UK and others are politicising matters and interfering in China’s internal affairs”. Nigel Adams stated.
“We believe that, based on all the available evidence, China’s actions in Xinjiang constitute an egregious abuse of human rights and, as a strategy to prevent extremism, are grossly disproportionate and deeply flawed. Untold numbers of innocent citizens have suffered under these policies and will continue to do so unless China implements UN recommendations to close the camps. It must also allow UN observers unfettered access to the region. China is contravening its obligations under the 1948 universal declaration of human rights and its own constitutional provisions on freedom of religion”.
He said that the human rights situation in Xinjiang remains a priority concern for me, the Foreign Secretary and the Government as a whole and as the Foreign Secretary told the House on 20 July, the UK wants a positive relationship with China.
Nigel Adams said thatUyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang are continuing to experience significant restrictions to their freedom of religion or belief, their freedom of speech and their freedom of association. The Chinese authorities have banned everyday expressions of religious observation, to which every person should be entitled. We are also aware of credible reports that mosques and other religious sites have been closed to worshippers or, even worse, demolished.
Nigel Adams said thatin recent months, we have seen deeply troubling allegations of forced birth control measures and sterilisation against Uyghur women in Xinjiang. We have also seen reliable reports that Uyghur children are being forcibly separated from their parents and taken to state-run orphanages, where lessons are taught in Mandarin and where political education, for want of a better phrase, is a key part of the curriculum.
Over 1 million Uyghurs, which is more than 10% of the Uyghur population, have been detained in internment camps without trial. Recent reporting, based on analysis of satellite images, suggests that the Chinese authorities continue to construct new internment camps.
Labo9ur MP Shabana Mahmood, in her opening remarks said that the repression of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese Government has a depressingly long history, but in the last few years the state has become bolder and more belligerent in the scale of atrocity that it is willing to commit—its bullishness is matched only by its brazenness. It is estimated that more than 1 million people are being held at internment camps in Xinjiang, and the Chinese Government are showing no signs of pausing their orchestrated campaign.
She said that we learned this week of one of the most striking examples of choosing to look away from what is happening to an entire people at the hands of the Chinese Government. The Disney Corporation, that self-styled beacon of wholesome positivity, chose to film its latest blockbuster movie, “Mulan”, in the very province where the Uyghur people are being interned, tortured and forcibly sterilised. Disney even thanked the state authorities in China for their co-operation. There is a particularly savage irony in a story of family, friendship and emancipation being filmed against a real-life background of forced sterilisation, families torn asunder and cold-blooded torture—in short, against a backdrop of genocide.
Shabana Mahmood went on to say that the repression of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese Government has a depressingly long history, but in the last few years the state has become bolder and more belligerent in the scale of atrocity that it is willing to commit—its bullishness is matched only by its brazenness. It is estimated that more than 1 million people are being held at internment camps in Xinjiang, and the Chinese Government are showing no signs of pausing their orchestrated campaign.
“We have all seen the horrific drone footage showing men being rounded up, and we have all heard the stories of forced labour camps. The testimony of witnesses is becoming ever more disturbing”.
Earlier this month, a Uyghur doctor spoke to ITV: “She speaks of participating in at least 500 to 600 operations on Uighur women including forced contraception, forced abortion, forced sterilisation and forced removal of wombs. She told me that on at least one occasion a baby was still moving when it was discarded into the rubbish.”
In the same programme, a Uyghur man spoke of his experience of being tortured in an internment camp:
“The torture was relentless. They beat me with the twisted wire and pipe nonstop. There was no place left without bruising. They tortured me for three hours, I couldn’t cope any longer so I begged them to take me down from hanging…After screaming and begging for so long I passed out.”
“Those are two short examples of the atrocities being committed. I could go on, for the charge sheet is long and horrific”, the Labour Parliamentarian said.
It is pertinent to mention here that Shabana Mahmood made intermittently lengthy observations during the proceedings and we are publishing abridged form of her expressions here due to short of space but shall publish her speech in full. (Editor)
Labour MP from Coventry South, Zarah Sultana said that over the summer, a coalition of human rights organisations reported that many of the world’s biggest fashion brands are complicit in human rights violations perpetrated against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, including the use of forced labour. Does my hon. Friend agree that multinational corporations have an urgent responsibility to ensure that their supply chains are free from such gross abuses of human rights?
Ms Nusrat Ghani
Conservative MP from Wealden, Ms. Nusrat Ghani said; “I congratulate the hon. Lady on holding this very important debate. She has very clearly laid out the tenet of what is required in international law to say that genocide is taking place in Xinjiang”. She said that unfortunately, though, China’s power within the UN means that the UN is a busted flush, so it is up to our Government—our Foreign Office—to say that enough is enough and we will hold our own tribunal to work out what the evidence suggests, which will no doubt be that genocide is indeed taking place.
Labour MP from Bethnal Green and Bow constituencies, Rushan Ali said that she is grateful to her friend (Shabana Mahmood) for securing this very important debate. Does she agree that if the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and genocide are not prosecuted—as in the case of the Burmese military, despite the now overwhelming evidence—it is likely that genocide will become a policy tool for China and many other countries and leaders around the world? It is on our country and our Government to show leadership here.
Tanmeet Singh Dhesi
Labour MP from Slough, Tanmeet Singh Dhesi was also thankful to Shabana Mahmood for securing this very important debate. He said “What is happening with the Uyghur people is absolutely diabolical. As she rightly pointed out, the alarming reports coming out of China indicate genocide, ethnic cleansing on an industrial scale, and the destruction of a people and their language, religion and culture. That is why, rather than mere platitudes, our Government should be spearheading an international movement to shine a light on the situation and force the Chinese Government to mend their ways”.
DUP member of Commons from Strangford, Jim Shannon declare an interest as the chair of the all-party parliamentary group for international freedom of religion or belief, and congratulated the hon. Lady (Shabana Mahmood) on bringing this matter forward. China stands condemned in the world courts for its persecution of the Uyghur Muslims, and also for murders, killings, injuries and human rights abuses. Does she therefore agree with me and many others in this House that the genocide against the Uyghurs is one of the worst crimes of the 21st century?
At another occasion, Jim Shannon said that we all have great concerns about forced organ donation, which is carried out on a commercial scale in China against Uyghur Muslims, Christians and Falun Gong. It is time that China caught themselves on. The world has a role to play as well, which is not to send people over for those transplants.
Imran Ahmad Khan Conservative MP from Wakefield, Imran Ahmad Khan also expressed gratitude to Shabana Mahmood for bringing this important matter before the House. He said that as we all here agree, UK values are built upon our shared belief in, and celebration of, liberty, freedom and pluralism. We therefore understand that people are not truly characterised by their race or religion, and that they are characterised by their innate human value. Sadly, their intrinsic value is not recognised by the People’s Republic of China for millions of people, whether Falun Gong, Muslims or Christians. If we cannot get change by talk alone, does she agree that we need to move into sanctions and other measures to get the Communist party of China to move?
Conservative MP from South Ribble, Katherine Fletcher said that there
are reports that Disney has filmed its new film, “Mulan”, in Xinjiang, the area that is the subject of this debate where people are being forcibly held against their will. There are very concerning reports of further things. What assessment has the Minister made of Disney filming “Mulan” in Xinjiang?
Conservative MP from Cheadle, Mary Robinson said that we have been talking about these issues for so long, yet there does not seem to be international action to deal with them. In Xinjiang province, people are living in fear, with 1 million people incarcerated and threats of sterilisation, yet we are not taking any action. Does the Minister agree that, as well as taking the action that we can take, we should get the international community behind us so that we can take concerted action to deal with this?
Navendu Mishra (Stockport) (Lab)
Labour MP from Stockport, Navendu Mishra said that he is thankful to the Minister for giving way and congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Shabana Mahmood) on securing this debate. The situation in Xinjiang is serious and Members from all parts of the House are talking about it. What is happening in Xinjiang is deeply disturbing, but it replicates what has happened in Tibet over the past few decades. We know the kind of oppression that Buddhist people have faced in Tibet. Does the Minister agree that it would be a welcome first step if the Government added the people from the Chinese Government who are responsible for these crimes to the list for Magnitsky sanctions?