Belgian parliamentarians call for government to declare “genocide” in Xinjiang, reject EU-China CAI deal

Parliamentarians sitting in Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives have submitted a resolution calling for the Belgian government to declare the persecution of Uyghur Muslims and minority a ‘genocide’. If successful, Belgium would become the first European country to follow the US Government in declaring an ongoing genocide in the Xinjiang region. 

The resolution is co-sponsored by Samuel Cogolati and Wouter de Vriendt, both members of the Ecolo-Green grouping. Cogolati also serves as co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, an international cross-party network of legislators pushing for democratic countries to take a tougher stance on China. A debate on the resolution will take place in the Belgian Parliament in the coming weeks. 

The genocide claims made in the resolution reference mounting evidence documenting the Chinese government’s policies of mass sterilization and forced abortions as part of a coercive birth repression campaign, as well as the transfer of large numbers of children whose parents are interned in the Xinjiang region’s vast prison camp network into state orphanages. Though the US State Department and a Canadian Parliamentary Committee have declared a genocide in the region, no European body has followed their lead.

The resolution also adds to growing criticism of the recently concluded EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). The resolution urges the government to block the approval of the investment deal until China has ratified core International Labor Organization conventions on forced labour. Last month Belgian parliamentarians Samuel Cogolati and Els Van Hoof, also IPAC member, questioned Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès on human rights and national security concerns within the CAI. 

The resolution calls for the Belgian government to: 

  • Acknowledge the Chinese government’s persecution of Uyghurs as a violation of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.
  • Demand China ratifies ILO core conventions Nos. 29 and 105 on forced labour before approving the CAI deal.
  • Suspend Belgium’s extradition treaty with China.
  • Ban imports of goods produced by Uyghur forced labour supply chains.
  • Demand the Chinese government release the wife and children of Uyghur refugee Ablimit Tursun, currently residing in Belgium.

Samuel Cogolati, co-author of the resolution and co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China commented:

“The millions interned in prison camps, coercive mass sterilizations and the transfer of children into state orphanages are redolent of the darkest chapters of the 20th century. Only by recognising these atrocities for what they are, namely a genocide, can we begin to offer hope for justice for Uyghurs and other victims of the Chinese state’s persecution in Xinjiang.”

“We cannot continue to do ‘business as usual’ with China while mounting evidence documents the most horrific state perpetrated human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other groups in the Xinjiang region. It is unacceptable that the EU has caved on human rights to seal its investment deal with China. The message from Belgium and across Europe must be clear: no deal without China’s ratification of international forced labour standards.”