MPs back motion declaring China is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims

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MPs back motion declaring China is committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims

Backbench vote brought by Tory MP Nusrat Ghani passed without objection, after she accused China of trying to 'silence and intimidate' critics by targeting them with sanctions

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Nus Ghani speaking at a rally outside Parliament with Uyghur activists. (Credit: @finnlau_cd on Twitter)
Nus Ghani speaking at a rally outside Parliament with Uyghur activists. (Credit: @finnlau_cd on Twitter)

MPs have backed a motion declaring that China is committing genocide against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province.

The backbench move, brought by the Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani passed on Thursday, although it does not compel the government to act.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Ghani said China had failed in their bid to “silence and intimidate” herself and four other MPs by targeting them with sanctions.

She added: “The work does not stop here. We cannot continue business as usual with China while these atrocities continue. The government must now act urgently to ensure our supply chains are not tainted by goods made with Uyghur forced labour.”

A succession of speakers – including the Tory Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the Lib Dems Layla Moran and Labour’s Siobhain McDonagh- backed the all-party motion and condemned the actions of the Chinese government.

Duncan Smith hailed the vote as “a historic moment”.

Nigel Adams, the Asia minister, said credible evidence of widespread use of forced labour, internment camps, and the targeting of ethnic groups had been found.

Labour’s shadow Foreign Office minister Stephen Kinnock said the party supported the motion arguing that “genocide can never be met with indifference or inaction”.

The vote was commended by the chair of the US Senate foreign relations committee, Bob Menendez, who said the UK parliament had “shone a light on the egregious abuses the Chinese state commits against the Uyghur people.”

Uyghur rights campaigner Rahima Mahmut speaking at a rally outside Parliament with Uyghur activists. (Credit: @finnlau_cd on Twitter)

Jewish News along with the wider community has campaigned for several months on the Uyghur issue.

President of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, said:  “We commend Parliament’s unanimous declaration that the treatment of the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang Province by the Chinese Government amounts to genocide. This historic vote, backed by MPs of all Parties, would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of Nusrat Ghani MP, Lord Alton of Liverpool, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and of course the World Uyghur Congress. We pay tribute to their determination to ensure that the world does not turn aside and abandon the Uyghurs to their fate and reiterate, in no uncertain terms, that we stand with them in this struggle, now and always.”

Last week, World Jewish Relief launched an emergency appeal to assist the thousands of refugees who had escaped persecution in China and are now living in Turkey.

Up to 11,000 Uyghurs, most in Istanbul, do not have work permits and are in need of food packages and healthcare.

Earlier this year, Canada, the European Union, the UK and the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials in protest at rights abuses in the country.
China has denied allegations of abuse and argued that the camps are a tool to fight terrorism.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis urged Jewish people in Britain to give generously because it would provide practical help to an Uyghur community that it is possible to reach.

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