British lawmakers have declared that China is indeed committing genocide against Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in its northwestern province of Xinjiang.
The British House of Commons approved on Thursday a parliamentary motion declaring that crimes against humanity and genocide are occuring in China. Radio Free Europe reports that the declaration is non-binding and does not compel the U.K. government to act, but it is a sign that lawmakers are growing increasingly troubled by China’s conduct.
At least 1.8 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are understood to be interned across a network of detention camps in Xinjiang, with numerous abuses reported at hearings in the U.S. Congress.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and current Secretary of State Antony Blinken have both accused China of human rights violations, including genocide. The parliaments of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada have likewise done the same, following moves by their American counterparts to take China to task.
In March, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada joined the European Union in sanctioning Chinese officials and companies involved in human rights violations in the region. China retaliated with a PR campaign downplaying the conditions at the camps, which it claims are designed to provide vocational training and to help fight Islamic extremism among the Uyghurs. China initially denied the existence of the camps.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson;s government avoided officially declaring genocide in Xinjiang, but admitted that there are “industrial-scale” human rights abuses being committed. The government stated that any decision declaring a genocide would be up to national and international courts.
Tory lawmaker Nus Ghani, who is one of five British lawmakers recently sanctioned by China for condemning its treatment of Uyghurs, has called upon Johnson’s administration to act.
“There is a misunderstanding that genocide is just one act — mass killing. That is false,” she said, adding that the genocide is ongoing in Xinjiang. Ghani stated that detainees are subjected to “brutal torture methods, including beatings with metal prods, electric shocks, and whips,” all part of a policy meant to “indoctrinate and ‘wash clean’ brains,” and that female detainees are forced to undergo sterilization.
“I do not believe there is any other place on Earth where women are violated on this scale,” Ghani said.