The House of Commons has unanimously declared that Uyghurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region are victims of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, the first time a motion declaring genocide has been passed unopposed in the British parliament. The UK joins the US, Canada and the Netherlands in having made formal declarations of a genocide taking place against Uyghurs.
The backbench business debate motion was led by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani, a member of the cross-party Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), and received backing from all major opposition parties. The motion calls on the UK government to fulfil its obligations under the Genocide Convention and to use “all relevant instruments of international law” to bring the abuses against Uyghurs to an end.
Today’s vote is the latest in a series of moves coordinated by IPAC members, who led successful calls for genocide declarations in the Canadian and Dutch parliaments earlier this year. Next week the Italian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee will debate a resolution proposed by IPAC member Delmastro delle Vedove condemning the genocide against Uyghurs, while a motion led by IPAC member Samuel Cogolati labelling the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang as a genocide has been tabled in the Belgian parliament. IPAC members Margarete Bause and Gyde Jensen will lead a public hearing on Xinjiang genocide claims in the German Bundestag next month.
Nusrat Ghani MP, author of the motion and IPAC member said:
“Today Parliament has spoken with one voice and called out the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal oppression of Uyghurs for what it is: a genocide.
“The work does not stop here. We have a solemn obligation under the Genocide Convention to act to prevent further atrocities from taking place. History will not judge us kindly if we fail to do so.”
“We cannot continue ‘business as usual’ with China while these atrocities continue. The government must now act urgently to ensure our supply chains are not tainted by goods made with Uyghur forced labour.”
“Major parties in the European Parliament have demanded that the Chinese government lift sanctions on EU citizens as a minimum condition for ratifying the EU-China investment deal. The British government must guarantee that it will not pursue deeper trade or investment ties with China until its government ends the persecution of the Uyghurs and lifts sanctions on its own MPs.”
US Senator Bob Menendez, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and IPAC Co-Chair, said:
“Today the British Parliament has shone a light on the egregious abuses the Chinese state commits against the Uyghur people. We owe it to the victims of this genocide to call out the Chinese Communist Party’s brutal persecution of the Uyghurs. The free world must be united in holding the Chinese government to account for these abuses.”
Senator Marco Rubio, Vice-Chair of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and IPAC Co-Chair, said:
“One by one, democratic nations are calling out the Chinese government’s persecution of the Uyghur people for what it is: a genocide. We cannot stand idly by while these horrific abuses continue. Democratic nations across the world must hold the Chinese Communist Party to account for its actions.”
Yasmin Qureshi MP, Labour Shadow Minister for International Development and IPAC member 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.”
“Parliament has spoken, now the government must act. We must take urgent measures to ensure that British companies are not sourcing goods tainted by Xinjiang’s forced labour supply chains. That this government is pursuing deeper trade ties with China while these abuses continue is unthinkable.”
Kimberley Kitching, Australian Labor Senator and IPAC Co-Chair, said:
“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. Condemning the abuses is not enough. 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. The Chinese Government must allow full and meaningful access to an international investigation into the alleged genocide taking place in the Xinjiang region.”
Miriam Lexmann, Member of the European Parliament and IPAC Co-Chair said:
“The Chinese government has tried to silence parliamentarians across the democratic world. Today the British parliament has shown that this intimidation will not work. No matter what national or party affiliation we hold, we are united in condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s abuses against the Uyghurs and other groups.”
Garnett Genuis, Member of the Canadian Parliament and IPAC Co-Chair said:
“Today’s vote is another milestone in the long road for justice for the Uyghur people. One by one democratic parliaments around the world are beginning to recognise that the suffering of the Uyghurs is nothing short of genocide. Actions must now follow words, and the Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable for their crimes against Uyghurs.”
Dovilė Šakalienė, Lithuanian MP and IPAC Co-Chair said:
“I come from a family of political prisoners and exiles – we will never forget the Soviet Communist regime and their Gulag system. Thus the sanctions and threats by the Chinese Communist regime do not scare us, we shall stay strong demanding that Gulag-like Laogai camps shall be dismantled”.
Samuel Cogolati MP, IPAC Co-Chair and Vice-Chair of the Belgian Foreign Affairs Committee said:
“The UK Parliament’s leadership in its unanimous agreement today that genocide is taking place in Xinjiang will inspire our Belgian Parliament to have the courage to have the same honest debate. We should be standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and fellow Parliamentarians around the world to show we will not be bullied by the CCP and we will expose its crimes against humanity against the Uyghur people.”
Rahima Mahmut, Director the World Uyghur Congress and Adviser to IPAC commented:
“The Chinese government’s actions against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic groups is nothing short of a genocide. That the British parliament has unanimously recognised this is a major victory for all those who have been drawing attention to these abuses over many years.”
“Statements of solidarity mean a lot, but Uyghurs need them to be followed up with meaningful action. Only when the Chinese government faces the consequences of its actions will it be deterred from further abuses. The Chinese government cannot be allowed to continue to carry out crimes against humanity and genocide with impunity.”