China's treatment of Uyghurs has been declared genocide by British lawmakers
On Thursday, British legislators overwhelmingly called China's ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang a genocide. The United Kingdom has now joined the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands in strongly condemning Beijing's conduct against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far west.
Nusrat Ghani, a Conservative senator, proposed the resolution. “While we must never abuse the word genocide, we must not hesitate to use it when it is warranted,” she said in her speech. As a result, the House of Commons passed a non-binding resolution condemning "mass human rights violations and crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region" without opposition. The motion's approval is non-binding, which means the government must determine what step, if any, to take next.
In recent years, China has been accused of detaining up to 2 million people in a system of camps set up across Xinjiang, with survivors alleging systematic violence such as brainwashing, torture, rape, and forced labour. Beijing continues to defend the scheme as a critical deradicalization and vocational training program for the region's defence.
When responding to the motion, Rahima Mahmut, Director of the World Uyghur Conference in the United Kingdom, said, "Statements of unity mean a lot, but Uyghurs need them to be backed up with concrete action." “Only by facing the repercussions of its decisions can the Chinese government be deterred from more abuses. The British parliament's universal recognition of this as genocide is a huge achievement for all those who have been raising awareness of these atrocities for years.”
The motion was introduced on Thursday in the midst of rising tensions between the United Kingdom and China, which saw Britain join the United States, France, and the Netherlands in sanctioning Chinese Communist Party officials for human rights violations. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced new sanctions against UK entities and individuals, including Ghani, in response to the motion.
The motion was strongly opposed by the Chinese embassy in the UK on Friday, which described it as a "blatant intrusion in China's internal affairs."