UK Labour Party to Declare China’s Treatment of Uyghurs as ‘Genocide’

UK Labour Party to Declare China’s Treatment of Uyghurs as ‘Genocide’

By Alex
The shadow foreign secretary of the U.K.’s Labour Party, David Lammy, has announced that the party will pursue legal action to declare China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims as “genocide” if they win the next election. Lammy stated that if Labour were to form the next British government, he would work with their partners to seek recognition of China’s actions as genocide through the international courts.
China has been detaining Uyghurs in camps where there are accusations of torture, forced labor, and sexual abuse. The Chinese government maintains that the camps are aimed at providing “re-education” to combat terrorism.
 The U.S. State Department has already branded China’s actions as genocide, and the United Nations has labeled them as potential crimes against humanity. However, successive Conservative governments in the U.K. have refrained from using the term, stating that it is up to international courts to declare a genocide.
During a conversation with POLITICO at an event organized by the Fabian Society, a left-wing think tank where he presented his party’s foreign policy plan for government, Lammy made this pledge on Tuesday. As per the latest U.K. polling, Labour is likely to win the upcoming election after being in opposition for over a decade.
Labour supported a motion in the Commons in 2021, accusing China of genocide, despite not having the government’s support. When asked by POLITICO if this was still the party’s stance, Lammy affirmed it, citing China’s increased internal repression and the serious concerns in Uyghuristan. While he stressed the importance of holding China accountable for human rights abuses, he also acknowledged the need for cooperation in certain areas.
When asked whether this meant that Labour would declare China’s actions as genocide if it entered government, Lammy confirmed that they would and clarified that they would act multilaterally with their partners. 
Responding to Lammy’s comments, Rahima Mahmut of the World Uyghur Congress called it “very encouraging news” and said that having a promise that a Labour government would not forsake them for trade advantage gave them hope.
Lammy’s Labour colleague Stephen Kinnock, then the shadow minister for Asia, called for the government to introduce a General Assembly resolution at the United Nations requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the question of genocide. Kinnock added that the U.K. should explore legal avenues via other international treaties and conventions, such as the convention against torture, to which China is a signatory. A Labour official confirmed that these were the steps that Lammy would take if he became foreign secretary.
If the Labour Party were to follow through with declaring China’s actions as genocide, it would likely strain relations with Beijing and jeopardize trade between the two nations. China vehemently denies that its treatment of the Uyghurs constitutes genocide and has sanctioned seven U.K. lawmakers over what it calls “lies and disinformation” about the issue. Despite this, Labour stated that it was determined to continue collaborating with China on trade, climate change, and global health, similar to the current government’s stance. U.K. trade with China was worth £103.5 billion last year.


Anne Kader

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