EU Lawmakers Call for ‘Urgent Political Action’ on Uyghur Rights

July 24, 2020 Updated: July 24, 2020

Over 70 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on Friday urged the European Union to take “urgent political action” to curb the Chinese regime’s “dehumanizing actions” against the Uyghur Muslim minority.

In an open letter addressed to Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Commission’s vice-president in charge of external affairs, the EU lawmakers urged the EU to demand a U.N.-led investigation into human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region and to consider targeted sanctions against Chinese officials involved in the persecution of Uyghurs.

The MEPs voiced their “deep concern on the recent discovery of further dehumanizing actions” against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

In particular, they called attention to new allegations that the Chinese Communist Party has adopted a “new invasive strategy” to “reduce the Muslim population throughout the region.”

In a report published in late June by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation think tank, German researcher Adrian Zenz found that the Chinese regime regularly subjects Uyghur women, especially in rural areas, to forced abortions, intrauterine injections, and sterilization.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese armed police patrol the streets of the Muslim Uighur quarter in Urumqi, China on June 29, 2013. (MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Chinese regime’s alleged attempt to destroy a specific population group through birth prevention may meet the criteria of genocide as set out in the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the EU lawmakers said.

Last year, the EU awarded its top human rights prize, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, to Uyghur economist Ilham Tohti, who had been jailed by the Chinese regime for criticizing state policies toward Xinjiang and the Uyghurs.

“However, since then there has been little action on the part of the European Union in addressing any of the issues that Tohti highlighted,” the lawmakers said, “urgent political action is now desperately needed.”

Epoch Times Photo
European Parliament President David-Maria Sassoli stands next to Jewher Ilham, daughter of Ilham Tohti, Uyghur economist and human rights activist, holding a portrait of her father during the award ceremony for his 2019 EU Sakharov Prize next to at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on Dec. 18, 2019. (Vincent Kessler/Reuters)

“The European Union should demand a U.N. independent international fact-finding mission, to bring the issue before the U.N. General Assembly and ultimately work toward a U.N. resolution on the subject,” the letter urged.

“Targeted sanctions, in the sense of a Global Human Rights Sanctions Mechanism against those responsible at government level, should be initiated if the Chinese government does not comply with the demands.”

The open letter was an initiative led by MEPs who are part of a new global coalition of politicians aimed at pushing back against the Chinese regime’s influence operations worldwide.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), announced on June 5, is composed of senior politicians from around the world, including lawmakers from the United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the European Parliament.

The group’s stated mission is to increase collaboration between “like-minded legislators” to craft a “proactive and strategic approach” on issues related to China, including human rights.

IPAC condemned the Chinese regime’s continued persecution of the spiritual practice Falun Gong in a statement released on July 19, the eve of the suppression campaign’s 21st anniversary.

Separately, Renew Europe, a centrist group in the European Parliament, wrote to Josep Borrell Fontelles on Thursday calling for swift imposition of sanctions on Chinese officials involved in human rights abuses.

“The recent news that China is using Uyghur labour camps to produce face masks, the disturbing footage from China of handcuffed and blindfolded detained Uyghurs and the continuous crackdown in Hong Kong show how urgent it is that the EU adopts a Europe-wide Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions on the leaders in charge of these human rights violations,” the group said.

“Renew Europe is of the conviction that the EU should adopt the framework swiftly to make sure we can ban human rights violators from travelling to Europe and freeze their assets,” said the letter, which was signed by 23 MEPs.

Justina Wheale, Isabel van Brugen, and Annie Wu contributed to this report.