CSW welcomes the House of Commons debate on human rights in Xinjiang, China, which took place on 29 January.
The debate, tabled by Alistair Carmichael MP, drew attention to the human rights situation in China’s(XUAR), where over one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and members of other ethnic groups are believed to have been detained without charge in political re-education camps since 2017.
Using information provided by CSW, Mr Carmichael detailed some of the reasons given for detentions, including “someone having WhatsApp on their phone; having relatives who live abroad; accessing religious materials online; having visited certain ‘sensitive’ countries; participation in communal religious activities; and behaviour indicating ‘wrong thinking’ or ‘religious extremism’.”
Numerous MPs called for the UK government to take action, with Yasmin Qureshi MP asking: “If the world stands by and does nothing, in light of what is happening, what is to say that it will not continue and escalate to another level?”
In response to the debate, the UK Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, stated: “Notwithstanding our deep and strong relationship with China, we [the UK government] must and will have no hesitation about raising these issues of concern.” Mr Field concluded by saying that the government would continue to urge China to meet its own human rights commitments.
CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We welcome the fact that the human rights situation in Xinjiang has been discussed by UK parliamentarians. The arbitrary detention of over one million people is a shocking violation of international law which cannot be ignored by the UK or the wider international community. CSW calls on the UK government to follow through on commitments to raising the crisis in Xinjiang with China at every possible opportunity, and to pressure the Chinese government to release detainees immediately and without condition.”
Several MPs also raised the issue of allowing the United Nations unhindered access to the XUAR. Thus far China have said that they would grant the UN access to Xinjiang on; however, diplomats and other international visitors to the region have had their movements tightly controlled by the authorities, with some areas completely 'off limits'. Carol Monaghan MP stated that any investigation must be open access and free from restrictions. Ms Monaghan continued: “If such a UN investigation concludes that Chinese activity in the region constitutes a violation of human rights, there must be decisive diplomatic condemnation and consequences for China.”
Mr Thomas added: “CSW strongly supports MPs’ calls for an unrestricted investigation to be conducted in Xinjiang by the UN. We urge the international community to raise this with China in all bilateral and multilateral dialogues until such access is granted.”
Notes to Editors:
1. Click here to read a transcription of the debate.