China targets UK with sanctions for “disinformation” in Xinjiang | Uyghur news

The Foreign Ministry says nine people and four groups face immediate sanctions and threatens further measures.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday announced sanctions against individuals and organizations in the UK for “maliciously” spreading “lies and disinformation” about the situation in far west Xinjiang where the United Nations claim that the Chinese government is committing violations of the rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

The sanctions target nine people and four entities, barring those affected and their family members from entering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, and Chinese citizens and institutions from looking after them.

“China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests, and warns the British side not to [to] go further down the wrong path, ”the ministry said in a statement. “Otherwise, China will resolutely react.”

Those sanctioned include Tom Tugendhat, a ruling Conservative Party MP who chairs Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and prominent human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy, who is an opposition Labor peer in the upper house. Sanctions have immediate effect.

Conservative politician Tom Tugendhat is among nine Britons targeted for sanctions for what the Chinese government has called ‘lies and disinformation’ for rights violations in Xinjiang [File: Tolga Akmen/AFP]
Prominent human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy, seen here with former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a discussion at Oxford University in 2018, is also among those sanctioned by the China. [FIle: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA]

Geoffrey Nice, who prosecuted former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and presides over the Uyghur tribunal – an independent tribunal set up to investigate whether alleged rights violations in Xinjiang amount to genocide – was also among the nine.

Nice is also a patron of Hong Kong Watch, a Hong Kong group for the defense of the rights and freedoms of Chinese territory. The group said the sanctions marked the end of the so-called “golden era” of UK-China relations.

“A regime which sanctions UK parliamentarians, lawyers, academics and activists for the ‘crime’ of expressing concern over human rights abuses cannot be seriously considered a UK partner or supporter of the rules-based international order, ”Hong Kong Watch said in a statement, noting that another of its patrons, David Alton, was also among those sanctioned.

The Uyghur court, due to hold its first hearing in May, was one of four groups targeted by China alongside the China Research Group, the Conservative Party’s Human Rights Commission (CRHP) and the courts of ‘Essex.

In a tweet, the CPHRC said it was “honored to have been sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party regime in recognition of its tireless work documenting the horrific human rights crisis in China.”

Earlier this week, the UK joined the US, Canada and the EU in impose asset freezes and travel bans on Chinese government officials, as well as a Xinjiang security body, for “gross human rights violations” against Uyghurs and other minorities.

“Beijing is trying to send the message that they will not stand idly by with measures they deem unfair from others,” said Katrina Yu of Al Jazeera, who is in the Chinese capital. “It’s really a symbolic gesture.”

The United Nations has said about one million Uyghurs and other Turkish-speaking majority Muslim residents of the northwest region have been detained in a network of camps that China has described as vocational training centers needed for fight extremism.

Rights groups said Uyghurs were also victims of other abuses, including mass surveillance, sterilization and restrictions on religion.

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