Federal Liberals and Labor lawmakers blocked a Senate motion on March 15 that called on the Australian government to recognise Beijing’s actions against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region as “genocide.”
Brought up by Independent Senator Rex Patrick from South Australia, the motion was centred on the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) human rights issues.
Besides urging the Senate to recognise the CCP’s actions as “genocide,” it also asked Canberra politicians to push the CCP regime to abolish mass internment camps, cease coercive population control, and end its persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in China.
Despite blocking the motion, both Liberal and Labor senators expressed concern over the current situation in Xinjiang and condemned the human rights violations against Uyghurs.
“As is often the case with matters as complex as this relating to foreign policy, we don’t deal with them as formal motions,” Liberal Senator Jonathan Duniam said. “We will continue to work closely with our key partners to advocate on this issue in a meaningful way.”
Independents senators Jacqui Lambie and Stirling Griff, as well as the Greens, supported Patrick’s motion.
In a press release, Patrick expressed his disappointment, saying, “While a number of Coalition and Labor members have self-styled themselves as ‘wolverines’ on the issue of China, today they had proved to be all huff and puff and nothing more when it came to calling out what is an immense crime against humanity.”
“The authorities in Beijing will no doubt take this craven performance as evidence that their trade coercion tactics will eventually deliver what they want, a browbeaten Australia that will pull its punches and won’t say a bad word about the Communist Party’s gross abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“But sooner or later Australia will have to stand up, not only for the defence of human rights in China and Hong Kong, but also for our own democratic freedoms and sovereignty,” he said.
Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, a staunch champion of human rights in China, told The Epoch Times prior to Patrick moving the motion, “The Senate usually does not entertain motions on foreign affairs as a matter of principle. That said, I support the content of the motion.”
Similarly, a spokesperson for Queensland One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts told The Epoch Times, “Senator Roberts is deeply concerned by the atrocities occurring in China to the Uyghur people at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“The Chinese government must be called out in relation to these human rights abuses which equate to genocide in its true sense,” the spokesperson said.
Australian Uyghurs, chanting “China stop lying” and “China stop genocide,” rallied in front of the federal Parliament to call for the motion to be passed.
“If they don’t listen now, a whole community, the whole Uyghur nation, is going to disappear,” Ramila Chanisheff, president of the Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association, told AAP on March 15.
“This is the 21st century. How does genocide occur in the 21st century?” she said.
So far, the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands have all condemned the CCP for its “genocide” against Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China.