Uyghur detainees in a camp in Lop County, Xinjiang, in April 2017
Uyghur detainees in a camp in Lop County, Xinjiang, in April 2017

Huge numbers of constituents have written to me about the alarming human rights situation in Xinjiang, China.

I too have been horrified by the reports of human rights abuses targeting the Uyghur Muslim community including mass detentions, efforts to restrict cultural and religious practices and mass surveillance. Recent reports of forced intra-uterine devices, sterilisation and abortion to minimise Uyghur birth rates are also deeply disturbing.

The actions that the Chinese authorities are taking in Xinjiang contravene China’s own constitutional provisions on freedom of religion and its obligations under the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I have long believed the Government should impose sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the persecution of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, including the State Secretary Chen Quanguo. Unfortunately, I am concerned that the Government’s response to this situation has been too apathetic and lacked urgency.

I would like to see the Government adopt a more strategic approach to China based on an ethical approach to foreign policy. This should include pressing the Chinese authorities to close the detention camps, cease indiscriminate surveillance and restrictions on religion and culture, and allow UN observers unfettered access to the region.

Just this week I have written to the Foreign Secretary asking him to engage with the mounting evidence of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. You can read my letter here. An independent investigation is urgently needed to hold the perpetrators to account. The world cannot turn a blind eye. The Government must condemn the actions of the Chinese Government to the fullest.

I also had the opportunity to question the Foreign Secretary during the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Questions in Parliament. I asked what steps the Government is taking to hold the Chinese to account over blatant human rights violations and urged them to support an independent investigation into human rights abuses. You can read my topic question and the Government’s response here.

In addition, I regularly table Written Parliamentary Questions on this issue, most recently I asked whether the Government will consider Magnitsky sanctions for those responsible for heinous crimes against Uyghurs. You can read all my Written Parliamentary Questions on this topic here.

As Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Uyghurs, I will consistently raise this urgent matter and ensure that it receives the attention it deserves. We cannot turn a blind eye to this issue.

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