Ex-Tory leader wants China ‘called to account’ over treatment of Uighur Muslims

Luke Powell, PA
·2-min read

Sir Iain Duncan Smith said he believes Parliament will today declare that China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang amounts to genocide.

The former Tory leader and two other MPs joined around 30 protesters gathered in central London ahead of a House of Commons debate about the issue on Thursday afternoon.

Sir Iain said the Chinese government had to be “called to account” over its treatment of the Uighur people, Tibetans and other minority groups.

MPs are due to debate a motion – put forward by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani – that Uighur people and other religious minorities in the Xinjiang province are “suffering crimes against humanity and genocide”.

The debate is due to finish at 5pm.

Speaking to protesters at Parliament Square Gardens, Sir Iain said: “We are determined that Parliament today will set a historic moment in calling out what I believe is genocide and which I believe Parliament will decree today is genocide.

“Even though the Government has said only a court can declare genocide, Parliament is independent and can declare it as it wishes.

“And I hope today at the end of the debate it will be clear that nobody in Parliament disagrees, and therefore Parliament agrees that what is happening to the Uighur people is genocide.”

The UK Government has said survivor testimonies indicate more than a million people have been detained without trial in Xinjiang, with widespread claims of torture, rape and sterilisations in internment camps.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab previously said the abuse of the Uighur people in Xinjiang was “one of the worst human rights crises of our time” and the international community “cannot simply look the other way”.

Conservative MP Timothy Loughton
Conservative MP Tim Loughton at the demonstration (Yui Mok/PA)

He set out a package of travel bans and asset freezes against four senior officials and the state-run Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau, in an internationally co-ordinated move with the US, Canada and European Union.

Beijing, which has rejected the reports, has since banned at least nine UK critics of the Chinese state, including Sir Iain, Tory MPs Ms Ghani, Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien, as well as barrister Geoffrey Nice and academic Joanne Nicola Smith.

Sir Iain, who was joined by Conservative MPs Tim Loughton and Ms Ghani at the Parliament Square event, said: “Genocide is the crime of all crimes and nobody and no state should ever commit it.”

He added: “The Chinese government has to be called to account for its treatment of the Uighur people, the Tibetans and many other minority groups.

“It’s not good enough, just because it is a big and wealthy country, to allow it to dodge the normal rules that police the rest of us.”