Uyghur genocide requires greater global solidarity over Xinjiang

By James Moules

GROWING numbers of nations are passing motions to recognise the repression of China’s Uyghur minority as a genocide.

On April 22, 2021, the UK Parliament voted to declare that the persecution of the mostly Muslim Uyghur people in China’s Xinjiang region constitutes genocide.

In January of the same year, then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “I have determined that the PRC (People’s Republic of China), under the direction and control of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

His successor, Antony Blinken, has signalled his agreement with Pompeo’s judgement on the issue.

The Parliaments of Canada and the Netherlands have also passed non-binding motions recognising the repression of the Uyghurs as genocide.

Yet Again UK, a platform founded in August 2020 that discusses modern atrocities, hailed the British Parliament’s declaration, saying “not only is this recognition historical, but it is also long-awaited.”

They told Redaction Report: “Evidence, research and two independent legal reports have pointed in this direction for a while and it is incredibly important that our parliamentarians acknowledge the reality of what is happening to the Uyghur people.

“However, whilst this is a welcomed and monumental step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go. We will be working hard to push for Chen Quanguo’s sanctioning, one of the principal architects of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) persecution of the Uyghurs, responsible for the CCPs erasure of the Uyghur people.

“We will keep a close eye on the Uyghur Tribunal, which will be independently reviewing evidence to reach an impartial and considered judgement on whether international crimes are proved to have been committed by the People’s Republic of China.”

Chen Quanguo is the current Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang, having held the office since August 2016. He previously held the same role in Tibet between 2011 and 2016.

It is under his watch that the reported “re-education camp” system was pursued – in which as many as one million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities are said to have been involuntarily detained and subjected to severe human rights abuses. These include rape, involuntary sterilisation and forced labour.

The Chinese government denies wrongdoing and claims that they are vocational education facilities.

[READ MORE: Growing calls to boycott Beijing Winter Olympics over China’s human rights record]

“Supporting Stop Uyghur Genocide’s campaign to brand the 2022 Beijing Olympics as the #GenocideGames will be of great importance in the lead up to next year, and we seek to increase consumer awareness of the use of Uyghur slave labour in the global market,” Yet Again UK added.

“We will also be doing our best to explore and celebrate Uyghur history and culture – whilst the Chinese government attempts to erase it, we will support the Uyghur community in keeping this alive.”

A few days following the UK government’s recognition of genocide against the Uyghurs, US President Joe Biden became the first holder of his office to recognise the Armenian Genocide.

Towards the end of the First World War, there was a mass murder campaign against the Armenian population of Anatolia, killing as many as one million ethnic Armenians.

The modern Republic of Turkey – a NATO member and key US partner in the region – maintains a stance of Armenian Genocide denial.

Yet Again said: “It seems to be the general consensus that the failure to recognise the Armenian genocide sooner was down to the US, and many other countries, prioritising their relationship and alliance with Turkey.

“With allies, such as Germany, recognising the Armenian genocide, it may have prompted the US to do the same, as well as Turkey’s deteriorating human rights record.”

Regarding denial of any genocide – from Armenia to Srebrenica and the Holocaust itself, they said: “denial is not uncommon but there is a great deal we can do to tackle it. We must hold perpetrators to account and speak out when we see misinformation. That is one key aspect of Yet Again’s work.”

Featured Image: Elvert Barnes @Flickr

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