Image source: Wikipedia / Creative Commons License
By Anne Kader
According to the British Foreign Office, Erkin Tuniyaz – the current chairman of The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, sanctioned by the US for his role in the persecution of Uyghurs – is planning to visit the UK next week, followed by trips to other European countries to discuss the situation in Xinjiang, the Guardian reports. Members of the Inter-parliamentary alliance on China (IPAC) called the visit “incomprehensible”. Among those objecting Tuniyaz’s visit to the UK, is MP Alicia Kearns who chairs the British Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The [UK] Government must refuse entry to Erkin Tuniyza – a key orchestrator of the genocide in Xinjiang – or arrest him on arrival. Any meeting with him should be in a courtroom, not a cozy Westminster office”, Kearns tweets.
In 2019 Tuniyaz defended Beijing’s genocidal policies: “The [camp] dormitories are equipped with radios, TVs, telephones, air conditioning, bathrooms, and showers.”
Tuniyaz, an Uyghur born in Aksu in December 1961, joined the Chinese Communist Party in July 1983. During his career, he has worked in several governmental positions. Tuniyaz has publically defended the internment camps as a counter-terrorism measure.
On December 10, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury added Tuniyaz to its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list. Persons on the list have their assets blocked in the U.S., and Americans cannot deal with them.
UK Barrister Mikhael Polak has submitted a prosecution request on behalf of Erbakit Otarbay, a Kazakh camp survivor now living in the UK, over Tuniyaz’s role in human rights violations against Uyghurs and other Turkic groups. Polak sent the request to the attorney general late on Wednesday night and hopes to receive a response later on Thursday, The Guardian reports.