Today the Genocide Amendment returned to the House of Commons once again. This important amendment would have been marked a watershed moment for the Uyghurs and ensured that the UK is not trading with a genocidal state.
The treatment of Uyghur Muslims is one of the world’s most horrific ongoing crimes. Evidence has shown gross human rights violations, including forced labour, rape and sexual violence, detention, forced sterilisation, organ harvesting and denouncement of religion. These horrors are a sobering reminder of the reality on the ground and that the international community must help end these atrocities.
Labour supported the Genocide Amendment and despite several Conservative MPs lending their support, the Government opposed and narrowly defeated the amendment, returning the issue once more to the House of Lords.
Whilst I welcome the sanctions against Chinese officials, trade should not be solely about self-interested commercial gain. While some may believe that who we sign trade agreements with should be dictated entirely by commercial interests, I believe we must draw a line somewhere – there are certain countries whose crimes are so great that they cannot simply be ignored on the basis of self-interest. The UK must be willing to say no to trade deals with countries that cross that line.
The Lords amendment considered on Monday sought to draw that line by giving Parliament the power to debate whether Britain should sign any form of bilateral trade or investment deal with a Government held responsible for genocide by our country’s most experienced judges. I supported the amendment. The UK should not be willing to sign trade agreements with governments who are committing genocide and engaging in torture, mass detention, slave labour, organ harvesting and non-judicial executions on an industrial scale. I cannot see how anyone could read the evidence of such crimes being committed against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and believe that a potential trade or investment deal with China should be considered only on its commercial merits and not on the basis of morality.
As the Vice Chair of the APPG on Uyghurs, I will continue fighting for further sanctions on Chinese officials who are carrying out human rights abuses in Xinjiang and I will support the Genocide amendment when it returns to the Commons again, to ensure justice is served for Uyghur Muslims.