UK Parliament Unanimously Declares Chinese Regime Committing Genocide in Xinjiang

UK Parliament Unanimously Declares Chinese Regime Committing Genocide in Xinjiang
The UK's Houses of Parliament in London on Dec. 31, 2020. (Niklas Halle'n/AFP via Getty Images)
Lily Zhou

The UK Parliament on April 22 unanimously passed a non-binding motion declaring that Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities in China's Xinjiang region are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide, and called on the UK government to use international law to bring it to an end.

This makes the UK Parliament the third legislature in the world—following Canada and the Netherlands—to approve motions referring to the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang as "genocide."
The U.S. government in January also declared that the Chinese regime had committed “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, and the U.S. House of Representatives on April 15 introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide against the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.

Members of Parliament cited evidence, including testimony, about detention camps, mass surveillance, rape, forced sterilization, and organ harvesting, and said "it is time" for the UK to act.

The motion calls upon the UK government to "act to fulfill their obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and all relevant instruments of international law, to bring it to an end."

Garnett Genuis, a Canadian member of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), called the motion a milestone.

“Today’s vote is another milestone in the long road for justice for the Uyghur people. One by one, democratic parliaments around the world are beginning to recognise that the suffering of the Uyghurs is nothing short of genocide," IPAC quoted Genuis as saying, on Twitter.

Benedict Rogers, the co-founder of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, called it a "truly historic day."

Nusrat Ghani, the British lawmaker who proposed the motion, is one of five British MPs who have been sanctioned by the Chinese regime for being outspoken about human rights abuses against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang.

During the debate, MP Sir Charles Walker said that all members of Parliament need to take a stand.

"When a national government sanctions one member of Parliament in this place, that government, that national government is actually sanctioning all members of Parliament in this place, and it is incumbent on all of us, all 650 of us to stand as one at this moment," Walker told MPs.

Ghani replied by saying she believed that the sanctions imposed by Beijing are "sanctioning this house and asking it to stop raising human rights abuses in Xinjiang," and "the fact that we're here today and having this debate shows that the sanctions just haven't worked."

On the same day, the Lithuanian Parliament also convened to hear the evidence on human rights abuses taking place in Xinjiang.
Isabel van Brugen contributed to this report.