The terrifying reports from Xinjiang Province, calls for the global community to act. The UK, joined by 38 nations have signed a declaration to condemn the persecution of the Uyghur community, however statements of condemnation are not enough.
Reports started leaking out that Uyghur Muslims in China’s northern region of Xinjiang were being sent to “re-education” camps forcing them to deny their faith. Repugnant though this is, the latest reports highlight what happens when the world sits by and watches.
People have been rounded up, at scale, and have disappeared. ‘Re-education’ is mixed with forced slave labour, in one of the largest cotton producing districts in the world. Satellite pictures showed how extensive this human rights abuse industry has grown as buildings have emerged at scale.
As revealed by the BBC and others, denouncing your faith and absorbing the culture of President Xi Jinping is just the start. This ‘programme’ is resulting in systematic rape, sexual abuse, electrocution and torture.
I spoke to the daughter of a medic who had been taken to the camp on a trumped up charge of ‘terrorism’, because of her faith. She was an elderly woman now serving a 20 year sentence. The daughter did not know if she would ever see her mother again.
How many? We don’t know, but some estimate a million people. One is too many.
Simply not enough is not being done.
So far the UK Government have asked companies in the UK to ensure that their supply chains do not purchase cotton from Xinjiang. This is a reasonable response in itself, but woefully insufficient. Not buying cotton, when there is mass torture is hardly going to stop the persecution.
All the signs echo the very worst of genocides this world has witnessed. We do not know if people are meeting their end in these camps, but if a woman is raped her life is stolen. Forced sterilisations and abortions deny life to begin and torture, beatings and electrocution suck your humanity.
Every nation must now take urgent action, putting pressure on the Xinjiang Province authorities, and on China too, who have failed to intervene showing their complicit consent.
All nations must be prepared to support the strictest measures to stop these atrocities, including extensive trade sanctions. China, is part of the G7, the President is due to come to the UK later this year as we hold the presidency of these wealthy nations. We have a special responsibility to stop this abuse.
It is not just in Xinjiang, it is in Hong Kong too. We have seen the protests, and I have heard from the independent trade union leaders how they are being rounded up and tried. The Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister need to get a grip; this is on their watch.
But it is also spreading out. We hear that in Myanmar (Burma), that the Chinese authorities are assisting the military coup, which has already arrested the elected leader Aung Sang Su Xi. The clamp down on citizens’ rights has already been extensive, and we are hearing that all channels of external communications are being severed. This is on top of one of the biggest humanitarian crisis, that of the Rohingya Muslims, driven from their land, now destitute along the Bangladesh border in refugee camps and in neighbouring states. No-one knows what will happen next.
Yemen is facing the greatest humanitarian crisis of any country with 80% of the population now believed to be destitute and in need of aid. Thankfully President Biden is acting by withdrawing the US support for the affliction in Yemen, but Britain must follow.
We are living in an ever more dangerous and unstable world, where the reaches of human evil is being extended in ways that are deeply shocking. The Covid19 pandemic might have sucked our attention, but it must not mute our action.
The UK has a proud tradition of leading human rights interventions around the world, and yet our current Government, first reneged on including a genocide clause in its recent Trade Bill, and are now sitting by as people are facing some of the worst atrocities witnessed. Labour would act; Labour would lead. It is on the global stage that the values of governments are exposed. There is no time to waste, as another lorry is pulling up and another person disappears.