When questioned over whether, in the face of mounting evidence of the human rights abuses Britain should attend the 2022 winter games that China is set to host, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab did not exclude a boycott of the event.
“Generally speaking, my instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics. But there comes a point where that may not be possible,” he said.
Raab, a former lawyer, acknowledged the mounting evidence of “serious and egregious human rights violations, gross human rights violations” against the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region but said it was difficult to have these legally categorized as genocide.
When Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, quizzed Raab as to why this was, he said that “on genocide the challenge … is that you have got to prove, to demonstrate that not only was it a destruction of a minority … but [done] with the deliberate intention of destroying it.”
Tugendhat argued that other lawyers had provided the requisite proof.
“Other lawyers including Ben Emmerson have cited the cultural destruction the forced sterilization and many other different areas as giving cause for the evidence of [genocidal] intent that you speak of,” he said.
“Clearly there is a line here possibly a narrow one between the two of you—how much more evidence do you think you need to see?” he added.
Raab responded with, “I think you can always find a lawyer or a scientist that will disagree with something the government is doing but the reality is it’s not just a question of showing that they’ve been targeted.
“It is establishing that they have been targeted as a minority, not just because they are a nuisance and raising concerns.”
Raab went on to say that a charge of genocide “requires a set of very particular evidential burdens” and “triggers a whole range of consequences.”
“Lawyers will differ on precisely when definitions are reached,” he added.
Tugendhat further pressed Raab citing the validity of details of China’s abuses against the Uighurs as warranting a classification of genocide.
“Clearly the detention camps that we are seeing, forcing of the Chinese language and silencing the Uyghur tongue … seem to indicate that it is a particular group that is being targeted for its cultural religious and social observations not just a minority which may or not be problematic,” he said.
Raab said that “Frankly the precise legal label does have implications.”
“But actually it shouldn’t distract us from saying this is appalling, we condemn it” and it is “at odds with the responsibilities that come with being a member of the international community,” he said.
The pressure on Britain to Boycott the Beijing winter Olympics comes following The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), the largest overseas Uyghur organization, in August urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider its decision to hold the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
The WUC, unlike Raab, does regard the detail of China’s abuses against the Uyghurs as evidence of genocide.
In their formal complaint to the IOC’s Ethics Commission, they said the IOC had “acted in breach of the Olympic Charter by failing to reconsider holding the 2022 Olympics in Beijing following verifiable evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity taking place against the Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims by the People’s Republic of China.”
“We hope that the Ethics Committee will engage with the issue we have put before them and call for the 2022 Olympic to be moved if international crimes continue to be carried out against the Uyghurs,” said Michael Polak, a London-based lawyer who prepared the WUC’s submission.
‘Global Political Issues’
The IOC, however, responded by saying it “must remain neutral on all global political issues.”
But WUC President Dolkun Isa said, “The IOC can no longer claim ignorance of China’s genocide against the Uyghur people.”
“If the International Olympic Committee allows the Chinese government to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, it will go down as a historically shameful decision,” he said.
Former Uyghur detainees previously told The Epoch Times that they were subjected to torture, forced to denounce their faith, and forced to pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) while held for unknown reasons in often overcrowded facilities.
Also, Uyghur women have been subjected to forced sterilization, forced abortion, and coercive family planning, a recent report revealed.
Meanwhile, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a prominent British human rights lawyer who chaired the China Tribunal on forced organ harvesting, establishing it in March as a crime against humanity, is convening another independent tribunal to investigate whether the Chinese regime’s alleged human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims constitute genocide or crimes against humanity.
The tribunal organizers expect to hold two public hearings in London next year, each lasting several days. A verdict is expected by the end of 2021.
Alexander Zhang contributed to this report.