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UK Lawmakers Join Designation of Uyghur Persecution as Genocide

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: April 26, 2021
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British Conservative Party MPs Nusrat Ghani (C) and Iain Duncan Smith (R) join members of the Uyghur community as they call on parliament to vote to recognise persecution of Uyghurs as genocide and crimes against humanity in London on April 22, 2021. (Image: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK’s House of Commons officially declared for the first time that the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) counts as genocide

The motion, which was passed by Members of Parliament, however, does not force Prime Minister Boris Johnson or his cabinet to follow suit or take any action against China. 

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party cabinet similarly abstained from voting on a motion unanimously passed in its House of Commons declaring the Xinjiang atrocities as genocide in February. 

However, the fact that Britain’s lawmakers have now united in their criticism of the Uyghur genocide will put pressure on Johnson’s China-friendly regime to make some sort of move to officially reprimand the Party for its human rights violations. Johnson has largely shied away from referring to the decimation of Uyghurs as genocide, supported by several of his ministers who argue that the designation should only be made by courts. 

While speaking in Parliament, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith asked the British government to seriously reconsider its position, “We will not gain any particular friendship by not calling out genocide from the Chinese. It is simply not a tradeable item,” Duncan said during debate. 

“The UK government has said endlessly — and I understand this — that only a competent court can declare genocide, that is absolutely the original plan.But the problem is that getting to a competent court is impossible. At the United Nations, it is impossible to get through to the International Court of Justice, it is impossible to get through to the International Criminal Court as China is not a signatory to that and therefore will not obey that.”

Nusrat Ghani, a former conservative minister and author of the motion, stated that the UK cannot continue with “business as usual” while the communist regime carries on atrocities against the Uyghur population. She asked the British government to urgently act to make sure that England’s supply chains are not tainted by goods made under Uyghur forced labor.

Ghani said during debate that Uyghur detainees were subject to brutal torture methods and that women in the region were being fitted with birth control devices. She said what Uyghur women are experiencing makes the TV show The Handmaid’s Tale, which revolves around a dystopian world where women’s reproductive rights are strictly controlled by the government, “a fairy tale compared to the reproductive rights of Uighur women.” 

According to Chinese government data, more than 200,000 birth control devices were inserted into Uyghur women in 2014, with the number increasing by 60 percent in 2018, said Ghani

In March, London had sanctioned four Chinese officials for their involvement in human rights violations in Xinjiang. Stephen Kinnock, Shadow Foreign Office Minister for the Labour Party, stated that the government needs to add more Chinese officials to the sanction list and advocate for the UN General Assembly to request an advisory opinion on the issue of genocide from the International Court of Justice.

The Chinese Embassy in the UK lashed out at the British parliament’s decision in expected fashion, demanding the government take immediate steps to reverse a finding unfavorable to the CCP’s desired public relations optics, calling the genocide designation the “most preposterous lie of the century.” 

Communist deflection propaganda

While the CCP is being censured around the globe for conducting genocide against Uyghurs, Beijing is ramping up propaganda against the United States on the matter. At a recent press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused Washington of funding Uyghur terror in the Xinjiang region.

The Foreign Ministry’s conspiracy theory is fueled by a video of an alleged FBI translator who claims that American forces are actively helping Uyghur terrorists by providing them training and arms. Zhao also referred to an earlier video clip from August of 2018, which showed remarks made by Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to the then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powel, in which he claimed the CIA wants to destabilize China by triggering unrest in Xinjiang.

Zhao also attempted to deflect Beijing’s genocide by trying to compare the campaign with supposed American “white mobs” who allegedly terrorized Muslim communities after 9/11. 

Zhao also tried to claim Muslims in China live with greater freedom than they do in America.  

Beijing 2022 boycott

Meanwhile, calls to boycott the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics are gathering strength, as many human rights organizations and democratic lawmakers find it offensive to hold the games in a country that is carrying out systemic oppression of its citizens. 

Protesters with masks bearing Chinese President Xi and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President shake hands in front of the IOC headquarters during a protest against Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, staged by activists of the International Tibet Network, on February 3, 2021 in Lausanne.
Protesters with masks bearing Chinese President Xi and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President shake hands in front of the IOC headquarters during a protest against Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, staged by activists of the International Tibet Network, on February 3, 2021 in Lausanne. (Image: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

Mitt Romney has asked the Biden administration for a partial boycott of the Olympics. Romney’s plan would allow American athletes to compete, but block American spectators from attending the event. Romney points out that allowing U.S. athletes to take part in the games will ensure that the American national anthem is played on Chinese soil when their athletes win medals.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also asked Americans to boycott the 2022 Olympic games, which he calls the “Genocide Olympics.” 

“How you would send your child there to compete when if they said so much as, ‘Boy, is the food bad here,’ you can end up in a Chinese prison for an awfully long time? I hope we’ll convince the [International Olympics Committee] not to hold them there and find another solution. We figured out how to move an All-Star game pretty quickly. Maybe we can figure out how to move the Olympics,” he said in a statement.