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Government refuses to declare atrocities in Xinjiang a genocide

14 November 2021

Today, the Foreign Affairs Committee publishes the Government Response to its report “Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond”.

The Government states that it will not “make determinations in relation to genocide” in response to the Committee’s recommendation to “accept Parliament’s view that Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang are suffering genocide and crimes against humanity”.

However, the Government agrees with the Committee’s recommendation to raise concerns with UNESCO, the International Labour Organization, and to engage with the Uyghur community in the UK.

The Government responds to the Committee’s recommendations to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, create an asylum fast track and to boycott imports from the Xinjiang region.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, said:

“I am pleased that the Government has accepted our recommendations to raise concerns with UNESCO over their inexcusable inaction over cultural destruction in Xinjiang, as well as to engage with, and understand the needs of, the Uyghur diaspora in the UK.

It is disappointing that the Government has failed to acknowledge Parliament’s view that a genocide, perpetrated by the Chinese government, is taking place. The scale and severity of the human rights abuses represents an international crisis.

Far too few countries have enacted measures that put pressure on the Chinese Government to end its abhorrent human rights abuses. It is unfortunate that the Government has decided against a ban on cotton imports from Xinjiang or sanctions on all goods and companies associated with the region. No British citizen wants to consume goods manufactured in these appalling circumstances and a ban would hit Beijing where it hurts. While I welcome the Government’s commitment to engage with the Uyghurs already in the UK, there is a desperate need for fast-tracked asylum for those fleeing state-backed persecution. Many who should be here, safe, aren’t.

I urge the Government to declare a ministerial and diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. This will send a clear and powerful message: that the UK will not stand idly by in the face of genocide and crimes against humanity. The decision to look the other way will weigh heavy on our conscience, and ‘Never Again’ will become another empty phrase.”

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