Dutch parliament declares China’s treatment of Uyghurs genocide human rights news

The Dutch motion claims that China’s actions in Xinjiang, including birth control measures, fall under the UN Genocide Convention.

The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding motion claiming that the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China amounted to genocide, the first such move by a European country.

“A genocide against the Uyghur minority is underway in China,” the Dutch motion said, stopping to say directly that the Chinese government was responsible.

UN activists and rights experts say at least one million Muslims have been detained in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. Activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labor and sterilization.

China denies any human rights violations in Xinjiang and says its camps provide vocational training and are necessary to combat radical views.

The Chinese Embassy in The Hague said on Thursday that any suggestion of genocide in Xinjiang was an “outright lie” and that the Dutch parliament had “deliberately sullied China and blatantly interfered with the internal affairs of the country. China”.

Canada passed a resolution calling China’s treatment of the genocide of the Uyghurs earlier this week.

In a press conference on Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price also said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was “very clear” that what happened in Xinjiang “was genocide “and that this constituted” crimes against humanity “.

‘Great concern’

The Dutch motion said that actions by the Chinese government such as “measures to prevent births” and “the establishment of punishment camps” fell under United Nations resolution 260, commonly known as the genocide convention. .

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party voted against the resolution.

Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the government was unwilling to use the term genocide because the situation was not declared as such by the United Nations or an international tribunal.

“The situation of the Uyghurs is a source of great concern,” Blok told reporters after the motion was passed, adding that the Netherlands hoped to work with other nations on the issue.

UN activists and rights experts say at least one million Muslims are detained by China in camps in western Xinjiang [File: Ng Han Guan/AP]

The mover of the motion, lawmaker Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the center-left Democrats 66 party, separately proposed to lobby the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics away from Beijing.

“Acknowledging the atrocities committed against the Uyghurs in China for what they are, namely genocide, prevents the world from looking the other way and forces us to act,” he told Reuters news agency in a report. email in response to questions.

In a statement on its website, the Chinese Embassy in The Hague said the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has grown in recent years, enjoying a higher standard of living and a longer life expectancy.

“How can you call it genocide?” It said. “Xinjiang’s issues are never about human rights, ethnicity or religion, but the fight against violent terrorism and secession.”

The Chinese ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva on Wednesday accused the Western powers of using the Uyghur issue to meddle in his country’s internal affairs.

The growing pressure on China from the Uyghurs comes as an annual report by China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed a sharp and sudden drop in birth rates in Xinjiang amid reports of mass internment and police control. population.

Xinjiang’s population growth rate has declined by about two-thirds in two years, according to figures through 2019, according to the Hong Kong Free Press, which first released the latest figures on Thursday.

Between 2017 and 2019, Xinjiang’s birth rate almost halved, from 15.88 percent in 2017 to 8.14 in 2019, according to statistics.

A new Human Rights Watch report on Wednesday also alleged that the Chinese government has stepped up “baseless prosecutions” in the far western region, with Uyghurs and other Muslims facing long prison terms in Xinjiang. .

Since the Chinese government stepped up its crackdown on violent terrorism in late 2016, the region’s official criminal justice system has convicted and sentenced more than 250,000 people.

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