The Persecution Of The Uyghur Muslims In China – Where To Go To From Now? (Side event to the FoRB Ministerial)

On 16 November 2020, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Uyghurs and the Coalition for Genocide Response organised a webinar on the situation of Uyghurs and the needed responses.

Speakers included:

Alistair Carmichael MP, Member of the UK House of Commons, Co-chair of the APPG on Uyghurs

Lord Alton of Liverpool, Peer at the UK House of Lords, Patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, British barrister and former prosecutor at the ICTY

Nury A. Turkel, American Attorney and USCIRF Commissioner

Erin Farrell Rosenberg, Senior Advisor, Ferencz International Justice Initiative at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide.

Watch it here:

Lord Alton And The Coalition For Genocide Response Mark The International Day Commemorating The Victims Of Acts Of Violence Based On Religion Or Belief

On 21 August 2020, Lord Alton and the Coalition for Genocide Response hosted a webinar to make the The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief (22 August). Speakers included:

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK Minister of State (Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth) and Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict

Ambassador Sam Brownback, US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom

Prof. Ahmed Shaheed, Prof. at Essex Law School and UN Special Rapporteur on FoRB

Prof. Mariz Tadros, Director of the Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID), Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

Nadine Maenza, Commissioner with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

See full video here:

Coalition For Genocide Response Joins Over 50 NGOs Calling For Action In Iraq

The Coalition for Genocide Response joins over 50 NGOs from around the world calling upon the Iraqi government to commemorate victims of violence based on religion or beliefs.

Joint NGO Statement on Iraq to Commemorate International Day for Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, 22 August 2020

On this day set aside to commemorate victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief around the world, we stand together as civil society actors to honour those who have been persecuted and killed in Iraq for their religion or beliefs. Since the 2003 US-led invasion, Iraq has suffered internecine conflict and state collapse, degrading a once rich cradle of ancient ethno-religions and cultures. The Christian population, including ethnic Assyrians,
which numbered around 1.5 million at the start of this century, has been reduced to a mere 200,000 today. Other minority communities such as Yazidis, Sabean-Mandaeans, Turkmen, Kak’ais, and Shabaks have faced existential threats in recent years.

ISIS exploited the concomitant deterioration of religious freedoms as part of their genocidal campaign against ethno-religious minorities across the Sinjar region and the Nineveh plains. The targeted violence sought to erase the presence of religious minorities in Iraq altogether, and particularly of the Yazidis, decried by ISIS as devil-worshippers. ISIS executed those who refused religious conversion, and destroyed countless shrines, churches, temples, and other cultural sites. The effects of religious discrimination against minorities are widespread and intergenerational, as many of the displaced are reluctant to return to their ancestral lands for fear of religious persecution. This situation is compounded by the presence of militia groups in the Sinjar region and Nineveh plains and failures to meaningfully address governance concerns.

We welcome the efforts already taken to safeguard religious freedom and to counter narratives of violent extremism in Iraq, such as the Interfaith Statement on the Victims of ISIL endorsed by religious leaders from the Christian, Sunni, Shia and Yazidi communities, and supported by the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) and the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect. However, without justice and accountability for past atrocities, religious communities will continue to face persecution and the threat of repeated violence. Improving religious freedom is linked to holding perpetrators of genocide accountable, to providing secure conditions of return for minority communities, and to supporting those who have experienced the trauma of religious violence that drove them from their homeland.
We urge the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, the United Nations, and the wider international community to take the following steps:
1) To adopt legislation that ensures reparations for survivors and delivers justice for victims of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
2) To empower groups working towards social cohesion such as the Yazidi Survivor Network and the Iraq Religious Freedom Roundtable to advocate for their own interests.
3) To promote religious education across Iraq by means of cultural events and activities that inform the population about minority communities; integrate education about religious minorities in the Iraqi school curriculum to combat misinformation.
4) To implement innovative approaches to promote religious and cultural diversity, including community-based approaches using art and virtual reality technology, such as the Nobody’s Listening exhibition.
5) For UNITAD and the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect to facilitate a follow-up conference to broaden the endorsement for the Interfaith Statement by other religious communities. The international community should expand its support for the investigative activities of UNITAD.

Signatories:

  1. Aegis Trust (Rwanda/United Kingdom)
  2. Air Bridge Iraq – Luftbrücke Irak (Germany)
  3. AlRafidain Peace Organization (Iraq)
  4. American Islamic Congress (United States of America)
  5. Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (Australia)
  6. Assyrian Policy Institute (United States of America)
  7. AdvanceUSA (United States of America)
  8. Central Council of Yazidi in Germany – Zentralrats der Êzîden in Deutschland (Germany)
  9. Citizen Power Initiatives for China (United States of America)
  10. CSW (United Kingdom)
  11. Coalition for Genocide Response (United Kingdom)
  12. Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience (France)
  13. Défense sans frontière Avocats solidaires (France)
  14. European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom (France)
  15. Eyzidi Organization for Documentation (Iraq)
  16. Ezidis Worldwide – Eziden Weltweit e.V (Germany)
  17. Genocide Alert (Germany)
  18. Ghasin Alzaiton Organization for Youth (Iraq)
  19. Global Jothoor Foundation (United States of America)
  20. International Christian Foundation for Democracy (United States of America)
  21. International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (United States of America)
  22. International Dialogue Research and Awareness Centre (Pakistan)
  23. International Organization to Preserve Human Rights (United States of America)
  24. Institute for Global Engagement (United States of America)
  25. Iraq Religious Freedom Religious Roundtable (Iraq)
  26. Iraqi National Center for Counter Hatred (Iraq)
  27. Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights (Germany/Iraq)
  28. Jubilee Campaign (United States of America)
  29. Masarat (Iraq)
  30. Minority Rights Group International (United Kingdom)
  31. Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (Canada)
  32. Nadia’s Initiative (Iraq/United States of America)
  33. Nineveh Center for Minority Rights (Iraq)
  34. Nuhanovic Foundation (The Netherlands)
  35. Operation Hope (Australia)
  36. Panaga Organization for Education (Iraq)
  37. Project Abraham (Canada)
  38. RASHID International e.V.
  39. Refcemi (United Kingdom)
  40. Religious Freedom Coalition (United States of America)
  41. Religious Freedom Institute (United States of America)
  42. Roads of Success (United States of America)
  43. Shlomo Organization for Documentation (Iraq)
  44. Sunrise Organization for Civil Society Development (Iraq)
  45. TAJDID Iraq Foundation for Economic Development (Iraq)
  46. Trauma Treatment International (United Kingdom)
  47. World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (United States of America)
  48. Voice Of Ezidis (France)
  49. Yazda (Iraq/United States of America)
  50. Yazidi Legal Network (The Netherlands)
  51. Yezidi Emergency Support (United Kingdom)
  52. Youth Bridge Development Organization (Iraq)
  53. Zarok e. V. (Germany/Iraq)

“Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied – Daesh Fighters Still Enjoying Impunity Six Years On” Webinar

On 5 August 2020, we were honoured to host a distinguished panel of experts incl. Sareta Ashraph, Abid Shamdeen, Pieter Omtzigt and Lord Alton discussing the failures to prosecute Daesh fighters six years after they unleashed genocide. Watch the webinar here:

Six years after Daesh unleashed genocide in Iraq and Syria, survivors and the families of the victims are still waiting for justice being served. Some Daesh fighters have been prosecuted for their atrocities, in Iraq and other countries. While the number of prosecutions is very small, even these proceedings cannot be regarded as unproblematic. Some of the challenges can be summarised as the prosecutions being conducted predominantly for terror-related offences only and often conducted without due process and in violation of the rule of law. Furthermore, victims and survivors are not involved in the process and so deprived of their day in court. 

As the evidence of the Daesh atrocities is being collected, it is crucial to consider how Daesh fighters can be brought to account to ensure that victims and survivors will see justice being done. 

Speakers include:

Lord Alton of Liverpool, UK House of Lords

Pieter Omtzigt, Member of the Dutch Parliament

Sareta Ashraph, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Abid Shamdeen, Executive Director of Nadia’s Initiative

UN HRC Adopts A Resolution On Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing And Crimes Against Humanity

On 17 July 2020, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as enshrined in the 2005 World Summit Outcome.

The resolution stresses:

‘that States have the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind, and reiterating the responsibility of each individual State to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, which entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means, and that the international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.’

The resolution:

  1. Decides to convene, before its forty-seventh session, an intersessional panel discussion to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as enshrined in the 2005 World Summit Outcome, on the exchange of best practices on strengthening national policies and strategies to implement the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity through national mechanisms and other stakeholders;
  2. Requests the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to liaise with States, relevant United Nations bodies and agencies, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, the Special Adviser to the SecretaryGeneral on the Responsibility to Protect, treaty bodies, special procedures and regional human rights mechanisms, and the Global Network of the Responsibility to Protect Focal Points, as well as with civil society, including non-governmental organizations, and national human rights institutions, with a view to ensuring their participation in the panel discussion, and to make the panel discussion fully accessible for persons with disabilities;
  3. Also requests the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a summary report on the panel discussion and to submit it to the Human Rights Council at its forty-eighth session and to the General Assembly.

The resolution can be found here: https://undocs.org/A/HRC/44/L.12

The results of the vote are as follows :

In favour (32) : Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Germany, Italy, Japan, Libya, Marshall Island, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, Togo, Ukraine and Uruguay.

Against (1) : Venezuela.

Abstentions (14) : Angola, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, India, Indonesia, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Sudan.

Without Justice And Recognition The Genocide By Daesh Continues

Joint NGO Statement to Commemorate International Justice Day, 17 July 2020

Following its capture of Mosul on 10 June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) began to target northern Iraq’s ethno-religious minorities, as well as members of the Sunni community who stood in opposition or were perceived to be insufficiently supportive of ISIS and its ideology. In August 2014 ISIS swept across Sinjar and the Nineveh Plains, attacking indigenous Yazidis, Christians (including ethnic Assyrians), Turkmen and other ethno-religious minorities. Daesh went to considerable lengths to eliminate the Yazidi people, killing the men and adolescent boys, and abducting thousands of women and children. Young boys were indoctrinated and forced to fight for Daesh, while women and girls as young as nine were enslaved and sold as chattel to Daesh fighters.

Those held captive suffered sustained sexual violence under an organized system of sexual enslavement, were beaten, and forced to labour. Daesh had long been explicit about its intention to wipe out the Yazidi community, which it reviled as infidels and idol-worshippers. This intent, visible in the violations and public utterances of Daesh, is also evident in the group’s systematic destruction of Yazidi religious and cultural heritage sites. As determined by a United Nations Commission of Inquiry, Daesh committed genocide in its multi-faceted attacks on the Yazidis, whose suffering is ongoing.

Communal cohesion has been significantly undermined, and there is a considerable risk that cultural heritage and religious traditions may disappear forever. Countless temples, churches, and holy sites have been destroyed, while tens of thousands of civilians remain in squalid IDP camps across northern Iraq, too fearful to return to their ancestral lands. Nearly 3,000 women and children remain missing, with many believed to be in captivity. Recent attacks by residual elements of Daesh highlight the grave threat faced by civilians in Iraq today.

It is the legal and moral responsibility of all governments to act in accordance with the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The new Iraqi Government and the international community must work together to bring ISIS to justice. This includes supporting and working closely with UNITAD in fulfilling its mandate to investigate the atrocities and empowering survivor groups such as the Yazidi Survivor Network. In addition, all governments should undertake the necessary legal analysis to recognize the genocide and prosecute their citizens who joined ISIS and perpetrated atrocity crimes in Iraq and Syria. The prosecution of perpetrators – as in the trial of Taha A.J. in Frankfurt, Germany – and the formal recognition of the genocide are key measures in preventing future atrocity crimes and in countering violent extremism.

International Justice Day should serve as a warning to all perpetrators that they will face their time in court and be brought to justice for their heinous crimes. Daesh cannot be considered a defeated enemy whilst it continues to escape justice. Now is the time to put an end to impunity.

List of signatories:

  1. Air Bridge Iraq – Luftbrücke Irak (Germany)
  2. Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (Australia)
  3. Assyrian Policy Institute (United States of America)
  4. Center for Justice and Accountability (United States of America)
  5. Central Council of Yazidi in Germany – Zentralrats der Êzîden in Deutschland (Germany)
  6. Coalition for Genocide Response (United Kingdom)
  7. Défense Sans Frontière Avocats Solidaires (France)
  8. European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (United Kingdom)
  9. Eyzidi Organization for Documentation (Iraq)
  10. Families of the Missing (United States of America)
  11. Free Yezidi Foundation (Iraq/The Netherlands)
  12. Genocide Alert (Germany)
  13. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (United States of America)
  14. HAWAR.help (Germany)
  15. Hope Makers Organization for Woman (Iraq)
  16. International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue (France)
  17. Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights (Iraq)
  18. Minority Rights Group International (United Kingdom)
  19. Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (Canada)
  20. Nadia’s Initiative (Iraq/United States of America)
  21. Nineveh Center For Minority Rights (Iraq)
  22. Nuhanovic Foundation (The Netherlands)
  23. Project Abraham (Canada)
  24. Rainbow Organization for Child Protection (Iraq)
  25. Road to Peace (United Kingdom)
  26. Society for Threatened Peoples – Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker-International (Germany)
  27. Shlomo Organization for Documentation (Iraq)
  28. STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities (United States of America)
  29. Sunrise Organization for Civil Society Development (Iraq)
  30. Trauma Treatment International (United Kingdom)
  31. Women’s Refugee Commission (United States of America)
  32. Voice Of Ezidis (France)
  33. Yazda (Iraq/United States of America)
  34. Yazidi Legal Network (The Netherlands)
  35. YES- Yezidi Emergency Support (UK)
  36. Youth Bridge Development Organization (Iraq)

For The 25th Anniversary of The Genocide in Srebrenica, UN Experts Remind Us That Genocides Are Not Spontaneous

For the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, UN human rights experts urged governments to honour victims by building peaceful, inclusive and just societies to prevent such atrocities from happening again:

‘Genocides are not spontaneous. They are the culmination of unchallenged and unchecked intolerance, discrimination and violence.  They are the result of sanctioned hatred fostered in permissive environments where individuals first spread fear, then hatred for material or political gain, fracturing the pillars of trust and tolerance between communities and resulting in devastation for all…’

‘On this day of reflection, 25 years on, we also remember other communities that have been subjected to or are facing mass atrocities purely on the basis of their identity. We urge States and the international community to uphold their obligations, take urgent and effective action to protect those in danger, fend off the virus of hate and discrimination (including online), and ensure accountability…’

See full statement at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=26060&LangID=E

Remembering The Lives Lost In Srebrenica 25 Years Ago

Today, on 11 July, we remember ‘the worst [case of genocide] on European soil since the Second World War’, the case of Srebrenica. In only five days, 8,372 men and boys in Srebrenica were killed by Bosnian Serbs. 

The story of Srebrenica is a tragic one. It is tragic not only because of the mass-cleansing in Bosnia at the time but because Srebrenica was meant to be the safe haven for the persecuted.

On 6 April 1993, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 819 requiring all parties to the conflict to treat ‘Srebrenica and its surroundings as a safe area which should be free from any armed attacks or any other hostile act.

In March 1994, a Dutch battalion, Dutchbat, was sent to Srebrenica to protect Muslim communities in the region. Dutchbat acted under the UN command. 

On July 5, 1995, the southern part of Srebrenica came under attack.  

The shelling of the zones continued over the next days, including Bosnian Serbs shelling Dutch positions in the zone. Ultimately, on 11 July 1995, the attacks led to the fall of Srebrenica. 

Over 20,000 people were fleeing to the Dutch base at Potočari.

The base of the Dutchbat troops filled out. The 20,000 refugees who walked for over three miles to seek refuge in the base were stuck outside. They sought safety in factories and fields. Only about 5,000 were allowed to stay in the base. 

Less than half an hour after taking over Srebrenica, Bosnian Serbs arrived at the Potočari base. 

By midnight, around 15,000 men left the safe zone to walk for 63 miles to Tuzla, the closest Muslim area. Over the following days, these 15,000 men were subjected to a systematic massacre and horrific conditions. ‘Bosnian Serb soldiers brutally slaughter 8,372 men in Srebrenica alone.’ 

(More details can be found at: http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/what-happened/srebrenica-genocide/happened-srebrenica/

11 July was officially recognised as the Srebrenica Remembrance Day by the European Parliament in its resolution of 15 January 2009. The UN Security Council considered recognising the Srebrenica massacre as genocide in 2015. However, the attempt was blocked by Russia. The draft resolution proposed, among others, to: 

2. Condemn in the strongest terms the crime of genocide at Srebrenica as established by judgments of the ICTY and ICJ and all other proven war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the course of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina;

3. Agree that acceptance of the tragic events at Srebrenica as genocide is a prerequisite for reconciliation, calls upon political leaders on all sides to acknowledge and accept the fact of proven crimes as established by the courts, and

in this context, condemns denial of this genocide as hindering efforts towards reconciliation, and recognises also that continued denial is deeply distressing for the victims.

The 8,372 lost lives must be remembered. The atrocities of Srebrenica must be recognised as genocide.

The UK House Of Commons Debate On The Situation of The Uighur Muslims In China

Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)

(Urgent Question): To ask the Prime Minister whether his Government will make a statement on the mistreatment by the Chinese Government of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

The Minister for Asia (Nigel Adams)

We are aware of reports issued today by the Associated Press and the Jamestown Foundation alleging that the Chinese Government are using pregnancy checks and forced intra-uterine devices, sterilisation and abortion to minimise Uyghur birth rates. These reports add to our concern about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and of course we will be considering the report carefully.

The broader human rights situation in Xinjiang is of ongoing and serious concern to the Government. This includes the extrajudicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in political re-education camps, systematic restrictions on Uyghur culture and the practice of Islam, and extensive and invasive surveillance targeting minorities. Further reports indicating that forced labour is being used and that children are being forcibly separated from their parents add to the growing body of evidence about the disturbing situation that Uyghurs and other minorities are facing in Xinjiang.

We have expressed our serious concerns about these issues on many occasions. The Foreign Secretary raised them directly with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi in March. I also raised the situation in Xinjiang with the Chinese ambassador to London in March. Since 2018, we have played a leading role in raising these concerns at the UN. For example, at the UN Third Committee in October, the UK read out a statement on behalf of 22 other countries drawing attention to the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and calling on China to uphold its obligations to respect human rights. We have consistently raised the issue at the UN Human Rights Council, including at the most recent session in March, when Lord Ahmad, the Minister for human rights, raised the issue in the UK’s opening address. In addition, we advise all businesses involved in investing in Xinjiang or with parts of their supply chains in Xinjiang to consider conducting appropriate due diligence to satisfy themselves that their activities do not support, or risk being seen to support, any human rights violations or abuses. The UK will continue to exercise leadership on this important issue, raising it directly with the Chinese Government and working with partners to do so at the UN.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith

The Inter-parliamentary Alliance on China—IPAC—which is made up of 30 other lawmakers from 16 global legislatures, has today published research by Professor Adrian Zenz, the world’s leading expert on the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang province. The report shows that birth rates in the two mostly Uyghur regions plummeted by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018. Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates fell nearly 24% in a single year, compared with just 4.2% nationwide.

Worse, it is now clear that this is a direct result of Government actions. Unearthed Government documents mandate that birth control violations that come about

“due to the influence of extreme religious thinking”

should be “dealt with severely”, and that those unable to pay fines should be

“dealt with through coercive measures”,

including internment. Mr Zenz’s paper concludes that these measures are part of a state-wide crackdown that includes the mass sterilisation of women. This report corroborates the many horrific personal testimonies that many of us have heard. The genocide convention maintains that birth prevention targeted at minority groups is indicative of genocide, and the convention binds individual states to act, not just to rely on the international judicial system. Does my hon. Friend therefore agree that the Uyghur people have been, and are, the victims of mass atrocity crimes?

I ask the Foreign Secretary to go to the UN and call for an independent inquiry, but, sadly, I also recognise that the ways to deal with this through the UN will almost certainly be blocked by China. Given that likelihood, will my hon. Friend at least get the UK to make its own legal determination after weighing up this new evidence? Of course the world wants to deal with China, but we cannot continue with business as usual while this sort of blatant activity continues. Furthermore, given the Chinese Government’s appalling record on human rights, their attack on freedoms in Hong Kong, their bullying behaviour in border disputes from the South China seas to India, their blatant breaching of the rules-based order governing the free market and their delayed declaration on covid-19, will the Government now initiate an internal review of the UK’s dependence on China, with a view to significantly reducing that dependence, and call on the free world to come together to ensure that this growing threat from China is dealt with together before, as history teaches us, it is too late?

Nigel Adams

My right hon. Friend speaks with great passion and knowledge on these subjects. He refers to legal determination. As I said in my opening statement, these reports add to our concern about the situation in Xinjiang, and we will of course consider them extremely carefully. Any legal determination would be a matter for a competent court. I reiterate that we have raised concerns about the situation in Xinjiang at the UN General Assembly Third Committee and UN Human Rights Council, alongside our international partners. We will continue to make our concerns known directly to China and bilaterally, as well as through the relevant bodies.

On a full Government review, our approach to China remains clear-eyed and is rooted in our values and interests. It has always been the case that when we have concerns we raise them, and that where we need to intervene we will. We have consistently led international efforts to highlight concern about the worsening human rights situation in Xinjiang, and I assure my right hon. Friend that the United Kingdom will continue to do so.

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab)

The Chinese Communist party’s brutal campaign of oppression against the Uyghur people is a scar on the conscience of the world. The Labour party stands with the people of China, including the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, and we condemn any actions by the CCP that infringe their human rights. We know that 1.5 million Uyghurs are incarcerated in re-education camps and subjected to ideological indoctrination courses, where they must learn Mandarin Chinese, recite laws banning unapproved religious practices and sing songs praising the Chinese Communist party, and we know that beatings and solitary confinement are routinely used to punish those who fail to comply.

The accounts that have emerged today about the CCP’s draconian measures to suppress birth rates are utterly horrific—women subjected to forced IUD insertions, pregnancy prevention injections, sterilisation. The CCP appears to be engaged in what some experts are calling a campaign of demographic genocide. Will the Minister therefore confirm that the Government will call for an impartial international investigation into what is happening in Xinjiang? Will he confirm that the imposition of measures intended to prevent births within an ethnic or religious group is expressly forbidden under article II(d) of the UN convention on genocide? Will he confirm that any country that is a contracting party to the UN convention on genocide may call upon the UN to take appropriate action under articles IV, V and VI of the convention, and that the UK Government will therefore now make the necessary representations?

Does the Minister recognise that the CCP’s actions in Xinjiang reflect a wider pattern of behaviour of increasingly authoritarian policies at home and aggressive expansionism abroad, including in Hong Kong, Ladakh and the South China sea? Will he set out how the Government intend to defend human rights and the rule of law? Will the Government now engage proactively with the European Union, the US and Governments in the Asia-Pacific region who share our democratic values to lead the international response in building consensus against the CCP’s increasingly belligerent behaviour towards its own people?

Nigel Adams

I thank the hon. Gentleman for putting so concisely his concern on this matter. I can tell him that we have been very active on this issue. We have played a leading role in raising these concerns bilaterally and at the United Nations.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We have concerns about the detention and human rights abuses, with more than a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities detained in political re-education camps—some people may refer to them as other things—and we deplore the systematic restrictions on their culture and practice of Islam, alongside the targeted surveillance of minorities.

On 10 March, at the 43rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, we raised our concerns specifically about the violations and with regard to forced labour in Xinjiang, under our item 4 statement. On 9 March, the Foreign Secretary raised the same concerns about Xinjiang with his Chinese counterpart. As I said in my statement, I have spoken directly to the Chinese ambassador to raise our concerns about human rights in Xinjiang. On 25 February, at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council, the Minister responsible for human rights, Lord Ahmad, directly raised his concerns about Xinjiang during his opening address at the conference. We call on China to allow the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights unfettered access to the region.

Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con)

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) and associate myself, somewhat surprisingly, with the words of the Labour Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock)—that is a welcome change.

I have heard the various comments made by my right hon. Friend and the hon. Gentleman, and I have heard the Minister’s answers, which I support. Will the Minister perhaps look at the companies operating here in the United Kingdom that may have benefited from some of the labour in Xinjiang that he described and explain why they are able to operate here in the UK? Why are they able to use labour from these camps for re-education, at best, and very often for worse? Why are these companies seemingly able to operate around the world as though they were ordinary companies?

Nigel Adams

The Chairman of the Select Committee is right to raise that point. He will be aware that bidders for any central Government contracts above certain thresholds are required to confirm that they are compliant with the transparency requirements in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. However, the decision on high-risk vendors did not involve the award of a contract to the telecommunications firm to which I assume the Chairmen of Select Committee may have been referring. We take this issue very seriously, and, as I said in my statement, all British companies involved in the region must consider carrying out proper due diligence to ensure that human rights violations have not been taking place in their supply chains.

Alyn Smith (Stirling) (SNP) [V]

I am glad to see such an element of consensus across the House today; I find it difficult to disagree with any of the previous contributions to this discussion. The challenge for us is to decide what we are actually going to do about it. Warm words and sympathy come easily to politicians, but Beijing would be entitled to feel that it is getting somewhat mixed messages. I concur that the UN mechanisms are pretty stymied. This is not a new problem—it has been going on for a number of years—and the UK is becoming increasingly involved in strategic developments with, in effect, emanations of the Chinese state. Huawei is one example, but there are others. Will the Minister undertake at least to promise to promote investigations by UN observers of the camps and, indeed, the reports of forced sterilisation, which is a degree of ethnic cleansing under the Rome statute? This is serious stuff on which we must take action. Will the Minister also come back to the House with an audit of all Government procurement contracts with Chinese companies and an assessment of these concerns?

Nigel Adams

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise those issues. He will be aware that access to Xinjiang is not particularly easy to procure. We would very much welcome United Nations personnel being allowed into the region and have pressed China on that. It has not been the most easy thing to deal with—I have raised the matter personally with the Chinese ambassador. I reiterate what I said earlier: we need to ensure that British firms really do consider due diligence in their supply chains.

Alicia Kearns (Rutland and Melton) (Con) [V]

Forced sterilisation of women; children ripped from their families; detention centres to treat the so-called pathology of religious and cultural beliefs; forced labour; rape, and DNA databases. In our history, we have learned that we must all take a stand against systematic and industrialised efforts to eradicate religious and ethnic minorities, so will my hon. Friend commit to using Magnitsky-style sanctions to bring to justice Chinese Communist party officials who perpetrate and profit from this cultural genocide of the Uyghur people?

Nigel Adams

My hon. Friend speaks with a great deal of experience in this area. Of course, she will be aware that the Foreign Secretary has committed to making a statement about our sanctions regime. That will be done before the summer recess. We have made clear our deep concern about this report and the human rights situation in Xinjiang. My hon. Friend will forgive me; of course, we will not speculate on who will be sanctioned under the new regime, particularly as the legislation is not yet in force, but she should not have too long to wait.

Patrick Grady (Glasgow North) (SNP)

I have constituents who have repeatedly raised concerns with me about China’s human rights record, whether towards Buddhists in Tibet or towards Falun Gong practitioners, and now we are faced with allegations of human rights violations of the highest order. The Minister keeps saying that companies should conduct due diligence about their supply chains. What is he doing to ensure that they actually conduct that due diligence, and what is his advice to companies that find that there are human rights abuses in their supply chains?

Nigel Adams

Certainly, if I were a company and had found that there were human rights abuses in my supply chain, I would be looking at a different supply chain, quite frankly. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise the issues with Tibet and Falun Gong. Clearly, these are very concerning issues. We will continue to work with private sector companies; we provide advice through our posts for those that wish to conduct business in China, and we will continue to do so. The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point.

Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con)

Reports of forced sterilisation and forced abortion are just further appalling reminders of the human rights record in China and the oppression of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. As well as confirming that he will continue to raise this issue in the international forum, will the Minister redouble his efforts to raise it—not just this specific issue, but China’s broader human rights record—directly with his Chinese counterparts?

Nigel Adams

My hon. Friend is right; we consistently do that. As I said, we have been leading the way in this regard in the international community since 2018. As well as the human rights issues, we have serious concerns about the use of extensive and invasive surveillance methods to target minorities in Xinjiang. We raise this on a bilateral basis with our Chinese counterparts and, as I have said on several occasions, at the United Nations.

Afzal Khan (Manchester, Gorton) (Lab) [V]

It is clear that the situation in Xinjiang has deteriorated over the past years. The systematic oppression of a whole ethnic minority group, who are physically abused and psychologically indoctrinated, must be condemned. I am certain that this pandemic has only worsened the conditions in the internment camps and has created a double emergency for the Uyghur community. Will the Minister condemn the persecution of Uyghur Muslims to the fullest? Has he considered using Magnitsky powers for personal sanctions?

Nigel Adams

Again, the hon. Gentleman is right to raise that. I refer him to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Alicia Kearns) on Magnitsky-style sanctions. The legislation will be cleared before the summer, so I am afraid the hon. Gentleman will have to wait a little longer in that regard. However, I can assure him how seriously the United Kingdom takes these human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang—demonstrated not least by the statement at the UN Third Committee in October drawing attention to these violations, which was signed by 22 international partners. We will continue to call on China—we do so from here today—to uphold its obligations to respect human rights.

Paul Bristow (Peterborough) (Con)

Reports of forced sterilisation by the Chinese authorities are leading many to fear something approaching genocide of the Uyghur Muslims. This is reminiscent of the worst totalitarian regimes. Does my hon. Friend agree that it cannot be business as usual with China while it treats its Muslim citizens and other minorities in this appalling way?

Nigel Adams

Clearly, as I have said previously, the reports we have seen in the last 24 hours or so add considerably to our serious concern about the situation in Xinjiang. We have had a short period of time to digest those reports. We will continue to stress our concern about the situation in Xinjiang and the way the Uyghur Muslim community in particular is having its human rights violated.

Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)

I congratulate the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) on securing this welcome opportunity, and thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting it.

These reports would be horrific even if they were of stand-alone incidents, but of course we know they are not; they are part of a course of conduct that we have seen in recent years—the re-education camps, the forced repatriation of workers within China, and the reports of organ harvesting. As we have heard from others, this is a systematic operation, reminiscent of genocide, which is being visited upon the Uyghur population.

In January of last year I led a Westminster Hall debate calling for the Government to take this to the Security Council, with a motion demanding access for a working party to Xinjiang province. We all know the obvious difficulties with that, but with everything else having failed, why have the Government not done that yet?

Nigel Adams

I remind the right hon. Gentleman that I said earlier in my statement that we are constantly raising this issue with the UN. He is right to mention organ harvesting, and I know how concerned hon. and right hon. Members are about this alleged practice. We take these allegations very seriously. We have consulted our international partners and the WHO, and the evidence provides disturbing details about the mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners in particular, and raises worrying questions about China’s transplant system.

Alexander Stafford (Rother Valley) (Con)

As well as oppressing the Uyghurs, the Communist Government of the People’s Republic of China discriminate against almost 100 million Christians. Last year alone, over 5,500 churches were destroyed, closed down or confiscated. Does my hon. Friend agree that freedom of religion and belief should remain a major global campaign for the Government, and what is he doing to ensure this is maintained?

Nigel Adams

It is absolutely the case that the Government remain committed to defending freedom of religion and belief for all people—for people of all faiths or none. The Prime Minister has his own special envoy, my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham and Rainham (Rehman Chishti), working on this issue, and through our extensive diplomatic network we continue to lobby Governments for changes in laws and practices, and raise individual cases of persecution. We also continue to use our influence to speak up for persecuted Christians and individuals of other faiths in multilateral institutions, including the UN and the OSCE.

Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)

For more than 60 years, the Chinese regime has sought to snuff out the culture, religion, heritage and liberty of the Tibetan people, and more than a million Tibetans have lost their lives. Now we hear of even more sinister tactics to suppress the Uyghurs, beyond even the outrageous concentration camps we already know about: sterilisation and eugenics. What is the Minister doing to enable UK officials to gain access to Uyghur areas, where they might find evidence of surveillance technology from Huawei aiding and abetting that suppression? Will he specifically take on the point made from the Opposition Front Bench about whether he, on behalf of the British Government, thinks that the measures meet the genocide criteria under article II(d) of the UN convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide?

Nigel Adams

British diplomats visit the region periodically. Although access is not particularly easy, we do require to observe the situation first hand. British diplomats visited most recently in November 2019. Their observations supported much of the most recent open source reporting about the restrictions that have been targeted at specific ethnic groups. My hon. Friend mentioned Tibet, which our diplomats visited from 15 to 19 July 2019. We continue to press for further access for our diplomats as well as urging the Chinese authorities to lift the visit restrictions that are imposed on all foreigners.

Ms Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab) [V]

The Uyghurs have been systematically persecuted for decades. Concentration camps have been built for millions and we now have clear evidence that the Uyghur population is being reduced through the forced sterilisation of women: so many early warning signs of genocide. I do not want to use any company that enables that and I would support any public body that felt exactly the same, but the Government intend to ban public bodies from expressing their condemnation through boycotts. Will they now reconsider?

Nigel Adams

The hon. Lady is absolutely right to be angry about those violations in the region. We referenced trade earlier, and of course we want to secure growth and investment for the UK, but upholding human rights and British values is not a zero-sum choice. Our experience is that political freedom and the rule of law are vital underpinnings for long-running prosperity and stability, and that by having a strong relationship with China, we can have open and sometimes difficult discussions on a range of issues, including human rights. We have had very open and difficult discussions directly with our counterparts in China.

Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall) (Lab/Co-op)

Like many in the House, I am appalled by the treatment that the Uyghur people face at the hands of the Chinese Communist party, and I welcome the Minister’s strong statement and the Government’s opposition to that. Will the Government stand in solidarity with those people facing that dreadful treatment by considering giving additional asylum support to any who seek asylum in the UK?

Nigel Adams

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. Of course, any asylum issue is a matter for the Home Office. I understand that advice has been put out to take into consideration across our network the situation that Uyghur Muslims find themselves in.

Rob Butler (Aylesbury) (Con)

Does my hon. Friend agree that if China is to play a leading role in the international community, it must quite simply abide by international laws and human rights?

Nigel Adams

My hon. Friend puts it absolutely correctly. As I said earlier, our approach to China should be clear eyed and rooted in our values and our interests. China is a leading member of the international community and we have a strong and constructive relationship in many areas. It has to be part of the solution to many major global problems, whether that is global health, as we have seen in the past few months, or climate change. It has always been the case that where we have concerns, we raise them, and where the United Kingdom needs to intervene, we will.

The UK House Of Lords Debate On China (29 June 2020)

Source: Hansard

Baroness Falkner of Margravine

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to reassess their relationship with the government of China.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con)

My Lords, as I updated the House on 17 June, our approach is already rooted in our values and strategic interests. When engaging China, we stand up for our principles, including international law, human rights and national security. We want a mature relationship, which means collaborating where our interests align, being clear where they do not and working to resolve our differences.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine (Non-Afl)

My Lords, first, I pay tribute to Sir Simon McDonald as he stands down from the FCO. He has been a remarkable leader and an exceptional head of our foreign service, and I wish him well in his future roles.

There is a pattern in Chinese policy, which is increasingly assertive towards countries which do not bend to its will—take the experience of Australia, Sweden, Norway, France or even ours over Hong Kong. Does the Minister agree that as the international environment changes, the UK, too, needs to be clearer with China about engaging constructively where we can but taking a clear and united stand with our allies where our interests diverge from China’s? History tells us that statecraft and ambiguity are not always the best bedfellows.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, first, I fully align myself with the sentiments the noble Baroness expressed about Sir Simon. He had a very distinguished career in the Foreign Office. On a personal level, he has been an excellent Permanent Under-Secretary and guided me through my early days as a Minister and continues to do so to this date.

On the noble Baroness’s point about the approach of having a balanced relationship with China, calling out Chinese activities, whether it is on Hong Kong or the situation as we see it in Shenzhen, we have done so. I agree with her comments in that respect.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry

My Lords, with Christian pastors made to preach on patriotism as a condition for restoring worship after Covid-19, the new ethnic unity law to sinicize Tibetan Buddhism, and reports of birth control forced on Uighur Muslims, does the Minister accept that firm, co-ordinated international effort is required to challenge Beijing’s abuses of its religious minorities and that such human rights abuses should not be overlooked in our trade negotiations with China?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, I agree with the right reverend Prelate. As he will be aware, in international fora such as the 43rd Human Rights Council in March, we have made our position very clear. He also raises the importance of working with international partners in this respect, and we have done so on the situation with the Uighurs, as we have with the situation in Hong Kong.

Lord Hayward (Con) [V]

My Lords, there is a litany of cases, whether concerning international relations or human rights, where China’s contribution to the world is going backwards. In the past 12 months, is there any aspect of international relations with the Chinese that has actually got better rather than worse?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, in the current pandemic, I have deliberately used the phrase “the interdependency of humanity” when we have seen the response on Covid-19. We have worked very closely with China, particularly on the procurement of equipment such as PPE. We continue to work closely as we prepare for COP 26 next November. Both countries, the United Kingdom and China, will be hosting international events in this respect, and collaboration is important.

Lord Boyce (CB) [V]

My Lords, while agreeing on the need to establish a sound relationship with China, does the Minister agree that it is of the utmost importance that we continue to exercise most robustly, through the Royal Navy among others, our right to freedom of navigation on the high seas in those waters of the South China Sea illegally claimed by China to be its own, in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea? Incidentally, that contravention was once again highlighted last Friday at the south-east Asian leaders conference.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, I agree with the noble and gallant Lord. Our position on UNCLOS and the South China Sea, working with other allies in the region, is very clear. We call on China to respect international law in this respect.

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe (Lab) [V]

My Lords, the approval by China’s National People’s Congress of the new national security laws for Hong Kong was immediately followed by worldwide condemnation. However, the Guardian reported that the National People’s Congress standing committee is currently holding a three-day deliberation and the law is expected to pass tomorrow. So China is clearly not standing down. Given the Prime Minister’s offer on 3 June that any Hong Kong citizen eligible to apply for a British National Overseas passport would have the right to live and work in the UK—although that has not been fully corroborated by our Foreign Secretary—how many might qualify for visas and how many will be allowed to claim full citizenship?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, the noble Baroness is quite right. The standing committee is currently debating this very issue and the decision is awaited. On BNOs, the Prime Minister has been very clear. I am sure that the noble Baroness also saw his article at the beginning of this month, where he made it clear that anyone eligible for BNO status—which is the larger number of more than 2.9 million people—would qualify for citizenship.

Baroness Northover (LD) [V]

My Lords, with which countries is the United Kingdom working to counter China’s threats to Hong Kong, Taiwan in the South China Sea and elsewhere, and how is that progressing?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, as the noble Baroness will be aware—I am sure she follows this—we have worked very closely with our European allies, including the likes of Germany and France. Allies remain allies: the noble Lord may not agree with me, but they do. We will continue to work also with others in the region. An earlier question pointed at the South China Sea. We work with other key partners, including the likes of Australia.

Lord Robathan (Con) [V]

My Lords, we are now faced with an authoritarian and expansionist regime in China, which is buying up Africa and elsewhere, and threatening our ally Australia, as we heard, and others. It is threatening Australia for the temerity of asking for an independent inquiry into Covid-19. We have to live with China, but we need to sup with a very long spoon. Will Her Majesty’s Government stand resolute with Australia, Hong Kong and others against the threatening and bullying behaviour of the Chinese regime?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, as my noble friend will know, we are very clear-eyed in our relationship with China. He points out the important relationship that we have with the likes of Australia. We stand with Australia. It is a key partner through security and other, wider strategic interests in the region. He also mentioned Hong Kong. I have made the Government’s position on that quite clear.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)

My Lords, following the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, what are we doing to support the seven United Nations special rapporteurs who last week expressed serious concern that Beijing’s new security law fails to comply with international human rights law? Do we regard that new security law as a formal breach of the Sino-British joint declaration?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, in answer to the noble Lord’s second question, we have made our position quite clear: it is a breach of that agreement, as well as a basic breach of Hong Kong’s own laws. On working in the UN and supporting what it is doing, he will be aware that we raised the issue at the UN Security Council on 29 May and continue to work with international partners on the issue of Hong Kong.

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)

My Lords, the final report of the independent tribunal into forced organ harvesting in China described the practice as a crime against humanity. Last July, the Minister shared my concern that the evidence on which the WHO cleared China was based on self-assessment by China. What is the Government’s assessment now of the tribunal’s full report and what has been the result of the United Kingdom’s representations to both the WHO and the Chinese authorities?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, the noble Lord is quite correct: the final report was issued on 1 March, and we noted that the testimonies added to the growing body of evidence about the disturbing situation that the Falun Gong practitioners, Uighurs and other minorities are facing. The Government’s position remains that the practice of systematic state-sponsored organ harvesting would constitute a serious violation of human rights, and I assure the noble Lord that we regularly raise these concerns with China. We have also consulted the World Health Organization in both Geneva and Beijing, although it maintains its view that China is implementing an ethical system. We will continue to keep this policy under review.

Lord Howell of Guildford (Con) [V]

My Lords, I fully agree that we should be both fearful of and careful about Chinese bullying methods, of course, but if we are thinking about Hong Kong’s real, longer-term interests and prosperity, should we not be a bit hesitant about equating continued mindless street violence with the causes of freedom and democracy?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

My Lords, any violence is condemned by us; I am sure that all noble Lords share that sentiment. There are rights to protest, which should be respected, but anyone protesting should observe the rule of law.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Bates) (Con)

My Lords, the time allowed for this Question has now elapsed. That concludes the Hybrid Sitting on Oral Questions.