Uyghur Tribunal: London

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 14th June 2021.

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Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 3:43 pm, 14th June 2021

We are disturbed by reports of attempts to intimidate those appearing at the recent hearing of the Uyghur Tribunal. We have previously made it clear that any attempt by China to silence its critics is unwarranted and unacceptable. The United Kingdom supports freedom of expression both as a human right in and of itself and as an essential element for the enjoyment of a full range of other rights. The freedom to speak out in opposition to human rights violations is fundamental.

The Government have repeatedly expressed our serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, and the United Kingdom has led international efforts to hold China to account for its human rights violations in the region. Yesterday’s G7 leaders’ communiqué called on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang. In March, the Foreign Secretary announced sanctions against four Chinese officials and one entity responsible for those violations, alongside the European Union, the United States and Canada. In January, we launched a package of measures to help ensure UK businesses and the public sector are not complicit in human rights violations or abuses in Xinjiang. The Foreign Secretary has consistently raised the UK’s serious concerns directly with the Chinese Foreign Minister, State Councillor Wang Yi, most recently in a phone call on 27 May.

Rather than continuing to issue denials in the face of overwhelming evidence and seeking to silence their critics, we call on the Chinese Government to address the breadth of concerns being raised internationally about Xinjiang. As a matter of urgency, China must grant the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights or another independent fact-finding expert unfettered access to Xinjiang to verify the facts on the ground.

I reiterate that the Government welcome any rigorous and balanced initiative that raises awareness of the situation faced by Uyghurs and other minorities in China. I met Sir Geoffrey Nice in April to discuss the Uyghur tribunal, and we are following its work. My officials will study any resulting report very carefully indeed.