On April 22, the UK Parliament unanimously declared that China has been committing genocide and crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region, CNN reports. Xinjiang is home to the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group, and other minorities.
Nusrat Ghani, a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), achieved unanimous backing by the House of Commons on a formal condemnation of the “mass human rights abuses and crimes against humanity” perpetuated by the Chinese government. IPAC reports that the motion encourages the UK government to fulfill its treaty obligations under the United Nations Genocide Convention and end abuses through “all relevant instruments of international law.”
Ghani grimly asserted that the UK cannot continue “business as usual” while innocent people suffer. She supports a proposed policy prohibiting further trade development and investment with China until it ceases its persecution of the Uyghurs and lifts sanctions on EU officials.
USA Today reported extensively on the horrific conditions that Uyghur detainees face during internment. Surveillance images show that at least 380 detention camps have been constructed or updated in Xinjiang since 2017, with some estimates ranging as high as 1400. An estimated 1 million Uyghurs have been interned in these camps, while another two million are enrolled in less rigid “re-education” centers said to be aimed at the “de-extremification” of Uyghurs. Uyghurs have faced arbitrary detainment for attending religious ceremonies, wearing traditional Muslim dress, and refusing to marry non-Uyghurs.
According to the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, Uyghur children and infants are routinely forcibly separated from their parents and housed in state-run orphanages labelled “child welfare guidance centers”. Like their parents, their “re-education” is focused on acceptance of traditional Chinese language and Han cultural practices.
According to a report released in March by the Newlines Institute, Uyghur women have also been the targets of state-led birth control efforts. Reports published by the Chinese government in 2019 outline plans to forcefully sterilize 14 to 34 percent of married women of childbearing age in Uyghur counties. In 2018, 80 percent of all new IUDs in China were administered in the Xinjiang region, which contains roughly 1.8 percent of China’s total population. Abortions and sexual violence among detainees are commonplace in camps. The use of female birth control methods coupled with the further internment of many re-productive age men has shrunk Uyghur population growth to almost zero.
USA Today adds that China continues to strongly reject allegations of genocide, calling them “ridiculed farces.” Chinese officials assert that while interred, the Uyghurs are provided with medical care and opportunities to pursue vocational skills and recreation.
The UK’s condemnation of Uyghur genocide reflects a mounting international outcry surrounding China’s human rights abuses. Successful efforts by IPAC members led to the passing of similar resolutions in Canada and the Netherlands.
On March 30, the Biden administration released a report formally classifying China’s mistreatment a genocide, following President Biden’s assertion on March 25 that the United States would be “unrelenting” in speaking out against China’s human rights abuses. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Uyghur persecution reflected the “wrong direction” human rights were taking across the world, The Washington Post reports.