Liberal Democrat spokesperson for foreign affairs, Alistair Carmichael MP, has today called on the government to recognise the situation of the Uyghur people in China as genocide. Speaking in Parliament following a statement by the Foreign Secretary, Mr Carmichael noted recent examples of human rights abuses reminiscent of genocide against the Uyghurs, and the importation in the UK of surveillance technology used in Xinjiang province in China.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Never mind the restrictions on exports, when will the government start looking at those materials that we are importing from China, in particular the materials manufactured by Hikvision, some of the most intrusive technology to be found anywhere in the world and which was used widely in Xinjiang province and which is now being installed by public and private authorities up and down this country. Will the government look at that in a joined-up way?
“On the subject of Xinjiang, the world is watching and what we are seeing is absolutely horrific. There was the drone footage at the weekend, last week there was the interception of a shipment of human hair. I know that genocide is a term of art in law, and the Foreign Secretary is right to be cautious about its use, but it could make an enormous different to tackling the issues as far as Xinjiang province is concerned if he would admit from the despatch box that there are growing number of articles of evidence to say that that is absolutely what is happening.”
Responding, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab MP said:
“In relation to UK regulation and the regime for exports, we have a strong scheme in place. BEIS will look at any cases he wishes to raise, and we are joined up by the National Security Council in a more closely integrated way.
“In relation to the definition of genocide, the real challenge of it, and I have worked on war crimes before coming to this House, the issue is the question of intention and deliberate intention that is ascribed to it. The reality is that it can also distract from the fact that we are increasingly confident, and there is a strong case to answer on systematic human rights abuses, and frankly what the legal label we put on it is to be secondary to the plight of the victims who are suffering under it.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Foreign Secretary must take seriously our options for further sanctions against the Chinese regime. The violations of human rights against the Uyghurs cannot be ignored any longer. We can start by acknowledging them for what they are: genocide.”