Labor leaders Lisa Nandy and Jo Stevens have called on the government to support a political boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics if China does not allow UN investigators unrestricted access to Xinjiang province.
Ahead of the competition that will begin in February 2022, the secretaries of Shadow Foreign and Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said that the condemnation of human rights abuses against the Uighur people must be “accompanied by decisive action.”
Nandy described the games as a “critical moment” to “defend our values,” adding: “As long as China continues to block access to Xinjiang, no government worth its salt should even consider dealing a public relations blow to Beijing.
“The UK Parliament recently took the unprecedented step of acknowledging that what is happening to the Uighurs is genocide. After a decade of conservative prime ministers rolling the red carpet to Beijing, this must be the turning point.
“The government must seize this moment to stop one of the most egregious human rights atrocities in the world. We cannot turn a blind eye to genocide. “
More than a million Uighurs are estimated to have been detained in camps in Xinjiang. Parliamentarians declared that genocide is taking place in the region, as they approved a motion, which does not compel government action, in April.
Several governments around the world, including the United States, have called the situation genocide. Other governments and numerous legal and human rights groups say the evidence shows “unprecedented levels” of crimes against humanity.
“These games had the potential to be a massive international moment as nations come together after the trauma of the pandemic. But the UK cannot, in conscience, provide tacit support to the Chinese regime as the evidence of genocide against the Uighurs continues to mount, ”Stevens said today.
“This cannot be a propaganda opportunity for a government that inflicts such horrors on its own people. It is time for our government to make its position clear. “
Dominic raab indicated in october Last year, Britain may not be able to participate in next year’s Winter Olympics if evidence of abuse of Uighur Muslims in China increases. He said the games would be “scrutinized very carefully.”
The chancellor told the parliamentary foreign affairs committee: “In general, my instinct is to separate sport from diplomacy and politics, but there comes a time when it is not possible.”
The Chinese government launched the ‘tough strike campaign against violent terrorism’ in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region against Uighurs and other Turkish Muslims in May 2014, seven years ago.
The number of Turkish Muslims detained since the crackdown began is also unknown, but between several hundred thousand and one million are believed to have been detained in so-called political education camps.
The United States estimates that up to two million people passed through the camps between April 2017 and December 2018, and a leaked memo from Chinese authorities said 15,683 “suspicious people” were detained in a single week in 2017.
The Chinese Communist Party committee secretary for the region, Chen Quanguo, has been quoted as saying that the centers must “teach like a school, be run like the military and be defended like a prison” and that the facilities are surrounded by perimeter walls. , watchtowers. and armed guards to “prevent escapes.”
Activists have called on companies sponsoring the Beijing games to use their influence with the Chinese government ahead of the 2022 event, asking them to educate and inform the world about the ongoing persecution in Xinjiang province.
Groups of ten different companies have called the competition the “genocide games” and have urged companies like Airbnb, which won a £ 500 million Olympics deal starting with the Beijing Games, to withdraw their sponsorship.
Nandy has described the ministers’ approach to China as “deeply confusing.” After the discussion about Huawei and the 5G network, he warned that they have persecuted China “for its investment without considering the consequences for national security.”
She joined Emily Thornberry in January in urging Conservative MPs to “vote with their conscience” on amendments to the trade bill related to human rights, emphasizing the crimes the Chinese government has been accused of committing against the community. Uigur.
The government narrowly defeated the measure, which would have required the government to reconsider any trade deal with a country that the high court found was committing genocide, as the amendment was rejected by 319 votes to 308.
Commerce Minister Greg Hands described the proposal as a denial of parliamentary supremacy. He said he was willing to have more talks with his rebellious Conservative MPs who backed the amendment but did not offer any specific concessions.
The shadow foreign secretary also said during an interview on The Andrew Marr Show earlier this year, the UK “should not engage in free trade negotiations with countries that abuse human rights far below the level of genocide.”