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 Stephen Kinnock Stephen Kinnock Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 3:43 pm, 14th June 2021

I have lost count of the number of times that I have stood at this Dispatch Box and urged the Government to take stronger and more robust action against the atrocities of the Chinese state as it relentlessly persecutes the Uyghur people. I have also lost count of the number of times that the Government’s response has been woefully inadequate. From the blocking of the genocide amendment, to the failure to sanction Chen Quanguo, to last week’s rejection of many of the recommendations in the BEIS Select Committee’s report on forced labour, the reality is that the Government’s response to the genocide that is taking place in Xinjiang has fallen miserably short of befitting any credible definition of global Britain, so far amounting only to sanctions on a few lower-level Chinese officials.

Five days ago in Xinjiang, we had the chilling spectacle of relatives and friends of witnesses who have so bravely testified to the Uyghur tribunal being paraded in front of Chinese TV cameras, clearly under duress, and made to discredit the evidence that their family members had presented. Having attended the tribunal myself, I can tell the House that the evidence is truly harrowing. I therefore ask the Minister: what assessment have the Government made of the credibility of the evidence presented to the tribunal? Will the Government be testifying at the tribunal and will the Minister himself be attending the tribunal? When will we see the changes to the Modern Slavery Act promised by the Foreign Secretary in his statement to the House on 12 January? How is, in the Foreign Secretary’s word, the “urgent” export control review progressing, which also began on 12 January? Do the Government support the opening of an ICC investigation into the international crimes of the Chinese officials who are orchestrating these abuses? Why are the Government not doing more in the UN to get independent human rights observers into Xinjiang? What steps are the Government taking to protect Uyghurs living in the UK from harassment and intimidation by the Chinese authorities?

The witnesses who have testified at the tribunal have shown huge courage and leadership. Let us hope that the Government will at some point start to follow in their footsteps.