Last Thursday, the House of Commons voted on a motion declaring that Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide by the Chinese government. Through this vote, parliament has made a strong statement about human dignity and religious liberty, highlighting the importance of valuing different faiths and cultures in society. It also emphasised the importance of speaking up against injustice for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Media attention over the Xinjiang detention camps has increased since the pandemic as the scale of abuse has worsened. More information has been uncovered over the treatment of the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang. Reports of torture, rape, sexual abuse, forced sterilisation, separation of families, organ harvesting, exploitation and humiliation of millions of people at the hands of officials have led to an outcry for justice. Religious belief is supposed to be protected by the Chinese constitution but these camps are in direct opposition to that principle. Aside from religious liberty, people have been completely stripped of human dignity.

The debate highlighted how the camp fulfils all the UN’s criteria for genocide: killing members, causing serious bodily and/​or mental harm, imposing conditions that lead to physical destruction, preventing births and forcibly transferring children of a certain national, ethnic or religious group. Under the Genocide Convention, the UK is responsible for holding other states accountable for their actions when there are blatant violations of international law. It provides grounds for perpetrators to be prosecuted for their crimes. The Government have also sanctioned members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under UK Magnitsky legislation, which punishes those who perpetuate human rights violations and abuses. Correspondingly, the CCP has sanctioned various MPs, but it was clear that the MPs would not be intimidated by this.

MPs were able to see many parallels to the Holocaust and were uncomfortable with watching from the sidelines. By declaring that this is genocide, parliament has made clear that they refuse to overlook the severity of the situation in Xinjiang. It also leads to the possibility of more drastic action towards government officials in China for these actions by recommitting to the UN Genocide Convention. It works towards saying never again” and meaning it.

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Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy and public affairs for Open Doors, comments: This vote to recognise that genocide is happening in China may be non-binding, but it is symbolically powerful. I hope that Christians will support this moral statement of intent because it reflects a political momentum for the UK to put human rights at the heart of foreign and economic policy.”

As Christians, we are outraged that people are subjected to such inhumane treatment for what they believe. We grieve over the loss of life in such a cruel manner. While it is a small step, we are encouraged to see the same outrage from political leaders and hope that it will lead to more action. Let’s pray that religious liberty would be available to all and the Government would continue to pursue justice for Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in China.

I hope that Christians will support this moral statement of intent because it reflects a political momentum for the UK to put human rights at the heart of foreign and economic policy.”