More Nations Formally Recognizing the Genocide Against Uyghurs in China

Over the past week, two nations join the ever-growing list of those which recognize the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghur and Turkic Muslims as genocide. Months earlier, in January 2021, the United States under the former Trump presidential administration was the first nation to formally make such a genocide determination.

In the weeks and months following January, numerous other countries followed suit; in late February, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion by unanimous vote of 266-0 recognizing the genocide, though Prime Minister Trudeau has been reluctant to use the ‘extremely loaded’ term; four days later, the Dutch Parliament passed a similar motion, albeit by a much more split vote of 95-94. In late April, British MPs recognized the Uyghur genocide in a non-binding motion and called for the government to further such a designation, but the UK’s stance remains that only “competent national and international courts” can do so. On 20 May, the Lithuanian Parliament passed a Uyghur genocide determination motion by a three-fifths vote which also (1) urged China to repeal its national security law in Hong Kong, (2) called on the UN to investigate the Xinjiang concentration camps, and (3) requested the European Union to reconsider its relationship with Beijing.

This past week, on 10 June 2021 the Czech Senate voted unanimously (38-0) to pass a motion emphasizing its concern for “massive violations of human rights and freedoms, genocide and crimes against humanity, ethnic discrimination, and the suppression of cultural, religious and political identity in the PRC [Xinjiang]. Taking it a step further, the Czech Senate also called for a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics which are slated to be hosted in Beijing on account of the perspective that the presence of foreign officials in Beijing would be “misused to legitimize further discrimination, violence and suppression of fundamental rights”.

And on 15 June, the Belgian Parliament passed a motion condemning the crimes against humanity taking place against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. Though they were more restrained in that they highlighted a “serious risk of genocide” rather than making an outright genocide determination, this motion adds to the expanding group of countries that refuse to ignore the CCP’s atrocities. The passed motion came hot on the heels of a parliament hearing featuring the testimony of former Xinjiang detention camp teacher Qelbinur Sidik, who highlighted the physical torture and sexual violence inflicted upon innocent minorities in these centres. The Belgian Parliament also urged the government to discontinue its bilateral extradition treaty with China and to prevent the passage of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment.

The new Uyghur genocide determinations have been welcomed by human rights and religious freedom advocacy organizations across the world:

“The decision of the Belgian Parliament to recognize the serious risk of a genocide of the Uyghurs is another important step towards widespread recognition of the Uyghur genocide. It is imperative that other countries in the European Union, as well as the EU institutions themselves, follow suit and take a firm stance against China’s atrocities and recognize them for what they are: a genocide.” – Dolkun Isa, President, World Uyghur Congress

“We thank our Czech and Belgian friends for standing up. We are gaining momentum. Seven countries have now recognized the Chinese government’s destruction of the Uyghur people as atrocity crimes. The Chinese government cannot succeed in escaping international condemnation, despite its constant propaganda and intensive diplomatic pressure on world governments.” – Omer Kanat, Executive Director, Uyghur Human Rights Project

“We thank the Parliament of Belgium for recognizing China’s atrocities against Uyghurs and the Turkic peoples Occupied East Turkistan (so-called ‘Xinjiang’) as genocide. We call on the European Parliament and all free nations across the globe to follow suit.” -Salih Hudayar, Prime Minister, East Turkistan Government in Exile

Cover image by Cinty lonescu on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)