A conference at the Press Club, Brussels, hosted by www.eutoday.net, heard that as many as 1.8 million Uyghurs – a Turkic and mainly Muslim community – are currently believed to be incarcerated in what are described as “re-education camps” where many are compelled to undergo forced labour.
Forced sterilisations of Uyghur women has been widely reported.
Former leader of the British Conservative Party, Rt. Hon. Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the conference “right now in the House of Commons we are engaged in an attempt to try to link any future trade agreement with severe human rights abuses, and in this case, Genocide… The whole issue of China is, I think, a big problem facing the free world now.”
Sir Iain has led the call for the UK to impose “Magnitsky” sanction against the Chinese leadership and other entities implicated in human rights violations.
Member of the European Parliament Alviina Alametsa (Finland, Greens) said: “China commits crimes against humanity, crimes against international law and human rights, and we cannot stay silent. I believe that the EU and the UN must do everything in their power to end this situation and to stop these violations.”
She continued “sadly the pandemic has been used by the Chinese government to impose the national security law and crack down on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong,” and raised the matter of a possible boycott of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Benedict Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Hong Kong Watch, and adviser to the World Uyghur Congress said: “I want China to be free, I want the people of China to have their human rights reinstated, but it is the regime of the Chinese Communist Party that is the problem.”
On the treatment by China of the Uyghurs, he said: “I absolutely agree that this has all the indicators of a Genocide, and indeed has been recognised as a Genocide by the United States, by the Canadian parliament, by the Dutch parliament. The issues of the Uyghurs and the situation in Hong Kong in and of themselves should be enough to justify Magnitsky sanctions and an entire re-evaluation of our relationship (with China)… Human rights are under the most severe assault in China since the Tiananmen massacre, and in some respects since the Cultural Revolution.”
The conference also heard from Belgian journalist and human rights defender Andy Vermaut, who discussed the ongoing situation in Tibet, occupied and oppressed by China since 1949.
He discussed the scope of the environmental degradation caused by the economic exploitation of Tibet, one of the most mineral rich regions on Earth.
He also emphasised that even North Korea enjoys greater press freedom than Tibet.
Ekber Turson, spokesman for the Belgian Uyghur Association discussed the situation faced by his own people, citing individual cases of forced sterilisation, of threats against Uyghurs in Belgium, and their families at home in Xinjiang, issued by Chinese authorities.
The conference concluded with agreement that recognition of the treatment of the Uyghur people as an act of Genocide, and the need for Magnitsky sanctions to be imposed on the Chinese leadership and other entities.
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