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China: Uighurs

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN 1340, tabled on 8 January 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations he has made to his Chinese counterpart on China's claims that Uighur Muslims have been released from Xinjiuang re-education camps; and whether he has received evidence of their release.

Answered on

13 January 2020

We note statements made by the Chinese authorities about the ‘graduation’ of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities from ‘vocational education centres’ in Xinjiang, but we have seen evidence to suggest these centres continue to operate. We have particularly serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang including the extra-judicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in ‘political re-education camps’, systematic restrictions on Uyghur culture and the practice of Islam, and extensive and invasive surveillance targeting minorities. We are aware of recent reports of forced labour, including from respected academics and credible non-governmental organisations. These reports are based on first-hand testimony and documents from the Chinese authorities and add to the growing body of evidence about the disturbing situation that Uyghurs and other minorities are facing in Xinjiang.

The UK Ambassador to China raised our concerns most recently with Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang on 24 December 2019 and we regularly discuss concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang with likeminded partners including at the UN. We have issued or joined a number of statements of concern in recent months: on 29 October at UN Third Committee, the UK read out a joint statement signed by 22 others drawing attention to the human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang and called on China to uphold its obligations to respect human rights; on 24 September, during the UN General Assembly Lord (Tariq) Ahmad called on China to allow UN observers immediate and unfettered access to the region; on 17 September, at the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council, the UK again called for UN experts to be granted unfettered access to Xinjiang and raised our concerns on arbitrary detention.

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