China’s Policy on its Uyghur Population Debate

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Department: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

China’s Policy on its Uyghur Population

Imran Ahmad Khan Excerpts
Monday 12th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Imran Ahmad Khan Portrait Imran Ahmad Khan (Wakefield) (Con)
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As a British Muslim, I know that Islam is based on ideals of peace, equality, loyalty, justice and, most importantly, submission to the will of Allah. This is also true for Uyghur Muslims; they are no exception. Yet despite their peaceful characteristics, hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs find themselves suffering cultural and religious annihilation at the hands of the Chinese Communist party, and among their number are also Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Christians and adherents of Falun Gong.

Sadly, there is a growing mountain of evidence to support claims that the Chinese Communist party is seriously violating the human rights of these people. As the United Kingdom, it is our moral duty to verify and document these human rights violations. As we have heard, up to 1 million Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic Muslims have been rounded up and put in re-education camps, where they are subject to political indoctrination, forced sterilisation and torture. Such extermination goes well beyond the Uyghur people. The CCP is intent on destroying non-Han Chinese cultural identity and history. Revered religious sites and mosques have been demolished, under supposed mosque rectification campaigns, while others with distinctive architectural features, such as minarets and domes, have been moved, as part of a campaign to Sinocise Islam.

According to CNN, since 2018, over 100 Uyghur cemeteries have been destroyed and relocated, including one that was transformed into a car park. Indeed, in response to a written question that I submitted to the Minister who is here today, he said that British diplomats themselves had verified in person much of this destruction.

We know that the Uyghur language is being banned in Xinjiang schools and that practising Islam is discouraged, shall we say, because it is seen as a sign of extremism. UNESCO has called this process “strategic cultural cleansing”. The cultural genocide is nothing other than an attempt to remove the Uyghurs and further cement Han Chinese supremacy. In 2018, an official in Xinjiang said on state media that the aim of these policies was to

“break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins”.

If that is not bad enough, there is a further point that I believe it is our duty to bring to the public’s attention and it is nothing other than the evil of slavery. These re-education camps conceal slavery, and slavery has seeped into almost every part of the Chinese economy. In addition to the exports that China sends to the United Kingdom and our allies around the world, in July, as we have heard, the United States seized a shipment of 13 tons of human hair products coming from China, allegedly from Xinjiang camps.

Slavery and forced labour in any capacity are repugnant to us all. The idea that, unwittingly, citizens of this country—in Wakefield and elsewhere—are purchasing Chinese goods and thereby becoming a partner of this evil industry must be rooted out and we must take a stronger view on it. So, the Magnitsky-style sanctions are a step in the right direction and should be used against those involved in the imprisonment and enslavement of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other minorities. However, we must go further and do our utmost to prevent the supply chain that we are involved in from having any link to the abhorrent practice of slavery.

It pains me that most Muslim-majority countries around the world have stayed largely silent. As a Muslim, that is a cause of great upset and regret. If it is left to us, Britain must become the champion and defender of liberty, freedom, tolerance and pluralism for peoples around the world, and must stand up against tyranny, oppression and persecution wherever they are found, whether in China or in Muslim-majority countries.

None Portrait Several hon. Members rose—
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