International Responses to the Uyghur Crisis
- Parliamentary resolutions in 9 countries condemned atrocities
- Parliaments in 11 countries launched coordinated legislation on the Beijing 2022 Olympics
- United Nations human rights experts and Special Rapporteurs issued joint statements
Multilateral: G7, United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, European Union
National: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, Switzerland, U.K., and U.S. (17 countries)
Civil society: Global and national
Multilateral Action 🇺🇳 🇪🇺
- The G7 Trade Ministers issued a joint statement on 22 October 2021, affirming the concern raised by Heads of State at the G7 Leaders' Summit in June 2021, and emphasizing the commitment of Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Canada, and the US to act on "forced labour in global supply chains, including state-sponsored forced labour of vulnerable groups and minorities, including in the agricultural, solar and garment sectors."
- 43 countries delivered a joint statement on October 21, 2021 at the UN Third Committee expressing concern for the human rights situation in the Uyghur region. The statement called for “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” for independent observers, welcomed the High Commissioner’s ongoing assessment of the situation in the Uyghur region, and encouraged the findings to be made public “as soon as possible.” The statement followed concerns raised in the Third Committee in 2019 and 2020.
- At the G7 Summit on 13 June 2021, seven countries announced joint commitments to end state-sponsored forced labor in global supply chains, referring specifically Uyghur forced labor, without naming China, in Paragraph 29: “We are concerned by the use of all forms of forced labour in global supply chains, including state-sponsored forced labour of vulnerable groups and minorities, including in the agricultural, solar, and garment sectors.”
- 44 countries delivered a joint statement declaring that they are “gravely concerned about the human rights situation” in the Uyghur Region, at the 47th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, read out by Canada’s UN Ambassador in Geneva. (22 June 2021)
- More than 60 parliamentarians from 18 countries called for the UN to launch a Commission of Inquiry examining the evidence regarding Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity in the Uyghur Region. (21 June 2021)
- Lawmakers in 11 parliaments initiated resolutions on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in light of widespread human rights abuses in the Uyghur Region and elsewhere in China. (7 June 2021).
- On 20 May 2021, the European Parliament votes to suspend the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), given Chinese sanctions on MEPs who have condemned the Uyghur genocide, with 599 votes in favor, 30 votes against and 58 abstentions.
- 16 UN experts expressed “serious concerns” about 150 companies connected to detention & forced labour of Uyghurs. (29 March 2021)
- On 22 March 2021, the European Union announced coordinated human-rights sanctions on perpetrators of gross human rights violations against Uyghurs. The sanctions place visa bans and financial asset freezes on four PRC officials and the Xinjiang police department.
- The European Union, Canada, U.K., and U.S. announced the first coordinated human-rights sanctions on perpetrators. The sanctions placed visa bans and financial asset freezes on four PRC officials and the Xinjiang police department. Australia and New Zealand issued a statement of support. (22 March 2021)
- On 17 December 2020, the European Parliament adopted a groundbreaking resolution on forced labour and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
- On 7 December 2020, the EU approved a ‘Magnitsky Act’ to place targeted sanctions on gross human rights abusers. This law can be used to place sanctions on Chinese government officials responsible for atrocity crimes.
- 50 UN special rapporteurs and Human Rights Council independent experts called for ‘decisive measures’ to protect ‘fundamental freedoms’ in China. (26 June 2020)
- A joint letter from 39 countries to the UN Human Rights Council expressed “grave concern” about gross human rights abuses against Uyghurs. They took this step because the Government of China has succeeded in blocking all resolutions in the Human Rights Council. (6 October 2020)
- Uyghurs called upon the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the peak global body concerned with labor rights, to end its silence on massive state-organized forced labor of Uyghurs. (10 November 2020)
- Muslim groups from 16 countries called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to end its silence. (18 December 2020)
- On 18 December 2019, the EU awarded its top human rights prize to Professor Ilham Tohti, sentenced to life in prison in 2014.
- On 15 March 2021, the Australian Senate considered, but failed to pass, a motion to recognize that the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uyghurs constitutes genocide. It also calls on the Australian government to urge the IOC to move the 2022 Olympics from Beijing, and to send no Ministers or senior officials to the 2022 Olympics.
- The Australian parliament is considering a bill to stop the import of goods made in the Uyghur Region: Customs Amendment To Ban Goods Produced by Uyghur Forced Labour Bill 2020.
- On 15 June 2021, the Belgian Foreign Relations Committee approved a motion recognizing China’s actions as crimes against humanity and warned of a “serious risk” of genocide, calling for re-examination of policies ranging from extradition to investment.
- On 22 March 2021, Canada imposed coordinated human-rights sanctions on perpetrators of gross human rights violations against Uyghurs, along with the UK, EU and US. The sanctions place visa bans and financial asset freezes on four PRC officials and the Xinjiang police department.
- On 22 February 2021, the Canadian House of Commons voted 266-0 to recognize the persecution of Uyghurs as a genocide being committed by the People’s Republic of China.
- On 12 January 2021, the government issued the Canada Advisory on Doing Business with Xinjiang-related Entities to raise the alarm about human rights violations in China affecting Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim ethnic groups. “The Government of Canada expects companies to take every step possible” to address both legal risks and reputational damage. Businesses should closely examine potential indicators of forced labour and other abuses in Xinjiang, including a lack of transparency on the origins of goods, internment terminology (“education training centres,” “vocational schools,” or “boarding schools/kindergartens for children”), Xinjiang government incentives, and factory locations near detention camps.
- On 2 October 2020, the Canadian Parliamentary Subcommittee on Human Rights made a finding of genocide and issued 5 recommendations for action by Canada. The subcommittee held three days of hearings in July and August, and made findings regarding mass detention and inhumane treatment, forced labour, state surveillance and population control.
- As of 1 July 2020, Canada bans the import of forced labour goods. The Canadian Customs Tariff Act was amended to prohibit importation of all goods produced, in whole or in part, by forced or compulsory labour. This ban applies to all goods, irrespective of their country of origin, and is enforced by the Canadian Border Services Agency.
Czech Republic 🇨🇿
- On 10 June 2021, the Czech Senate unanimously passed a motion recognizing the Chinese government’s abuses as crimes against humanity and genocide, and called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Olympic games.
- The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Czech Parliament condemned the inhuman treatment of the Uyghur people and called on the Czech government to express a clear and principled position on the gross human rights violations in the Uyghur Region. (18 March 2021)
- The Czech Senate passed a resolution of support for Uyghurs and Tibetans, stating its concern about human rights abuses against Uyghurs and Tibetans, and about the systematic violations of freedom of religion against members of Christian religious groups, Falun Gong practitioners and Muslims. (20 March 2019)
- On 19 February 2020, the German government’s Commissioner for Global Religious Freedom, expressed “great concern” about persecution of Uyghurs, based on leaked Chinese government documents known as “The Xinjiang Papers.” Numerous political party officials have called for greater action by the German government.
- In August 2018, Germany announced that it will halt all deportations of Uyghurs to China.
- On 27 May 2021 the Parliament passed a strong resolution condemning atrocity crimes against Uyghurs, although it did not recognize the crimes as genocide, as originally proposed. It noted the PRC’s sanctions against five MEPs, 3 MPs of EU countries, two academics, four European institutions and two research centers for denouncing the PRC’s human rights crimes against Uyghurs.
- The Japanese House of Representatives passed a resolution on 1 February 2022 calling for the government to undertake “monitoring of serious human rights situations in cooperation with the international community,” and “implementation of comprehensive relief measures" regarding "the serious human rights situation" in the Uyghur Region, Tibet, Southern Mongolia and Hong Kong.
- Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi raised concerns with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on conditions for Uyghurs, in an 5 April 2021 phone call.
- In February 2021, several multiparty groups, including Japan Parliamentary Alliance on China (JPAC) continued to call for passage of pending Magnitsky human-rights legislation and sanctions on Xinjiang officials.
- In a meeting with President Xi Jinping in December 2019, then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “The international community has been increasingly concerned about the human rights situation surrounding the Uyghurs. I’d like the Chinese government to provide a transparent explanation on the issue.”
- In late 2020, the Parliamentary Uyghur Friendship Group, founded in 2012, was reactivated with multiparty support from the Liberal Democratic Party, the Constitutional Democratic Party, and Nippon Ishin no Kai.
- On 20 May 2021, the Lithuanian parliament voted to “strongly condemn China’s massive, systematic and grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity” and called on the U.N. to begin “a legal inquiry into the Uyghur genocide,” by a vote of 86 to one with seven abstentions.
- On 4 September 2020, Malaysia confirmed that it will not extradite Uyghurs to China, and will allow them safe passage to a third country should they feel their safety is at risk.
- On 25 February 2021, the Dutch parliament passed a resolution declaring that the treatment of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China amounts to genocide, the first such decision by a European Parliament.
- The Norway Oil Fund divested from Hikvision due to the company’s participation in gross violations of human rights. Hikvision is a global technology company from China that that has a major role in the comprehensive monitoring of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim peoples. (18 September 2020)
- In March 2019, Sweden announced that it will grant refugee status to all Uyghur Muslim asylum-seekers from China, prompting calls for other Western governments to follow suit. The Swedish migration agency said that Uyghurs would be automatically considered at risk of persecution if returned.
- The Swiss National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD accepted a complaint for further examination, on the relationship of Swiss bank UBS with Hikvision, a company that is aiding China’s mass surveillance and genocide of Uyghurs. (28 January 2021)
- Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed a cross-party resolution to recognize that the Chinese government's human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic people constitute genocide, the first such motion passed in Asia. The resolution, adopted on December 27, urges the government to join other democracies in condemning and upholding sanctions against the Chinese regime.
- In May 2021 the Uyghur-Taiwan Friendship group was established 台灣國會維吾爾連線.
- In February 2019, Turkey condemned China’s treatment of Uyghurs as “a great cause of shame for humanity” and asked it to close the “concentration camps.”
United Kingdom 🇬🇧
- On 16 August 2021, the UK government’s China Overseas Business Risk guidance is updated to include a section on the Uyghur region to help ensure that British organizations, whether public or private sector, are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations.
- On 7 July 2021, the UK Foreign Affairs Committee released a report based on research and testimony on the situation in East Turkistan.
- On 23 April 2021, the UK House of Commons passes a motion recognizing that the Chinese government is committing genocide against Uyghurs. The Parliament debated the motion multiple times January-April 2021, with many in the parliament concerned about preventing the U.K. from making trade deals with any country deemed by the British High Court to be committing genocide.
- On 22 March 2021, the UK imposed coordinated human-rights sanctions on perpetrators of gross human rights violations against Uyghurs, along with the Canada, the EU and the US. The sanctions placed visa bans and financial asset freezes on four PRC officials and the Xinjiang police department.
- On 17 March 2021, the UK Parliament Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee issued its report on “Uyghur forced labour in Xinjiang and UK value chains,” with 17 conclusions and recommendations to the UK government, after six months of hearings and expert submissions.
- On 12 January 2021, the Foreign Secretary announced a review into which UK products can be exported to Xinjiang and the introduction of financial penalties for businesses that do not comply with the Modern Slavery Act, and a plan to increase support for UK public bodies to exclude businesses complicit in human rights violations from their supply chains. The UK government stated that is “seriously concerned” about the widespread and systematic human rights violations in the Uyghur Region.
- On 23 December 2020, 46 U.K. parliamentarians called on the government to “act urgently” to hold Chinese officials accountable for rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. They called for UK government support for the opening of an investigation by the International Criminal Court into “crimes committed by Chinese officials.”
- UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry on Xinjiang Detention Camps. This inquiry examines how the UK Government can prevent UK companies from benefiting from forced labour in Xinjiang, support members of the Uyghur diaspora community, and strengthen the UK Government’s atrocity prevention mechanisms. Launched 16 September 2020.
- UK Parliament Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) Inquiry on Forced labour in UK value chains. The Inquiry explored the extent to which businesses in the UK are exploiting the forced labour of Uyghurs. Launched 18 September 2020.
United States 🇺🇸
- The Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act (H.R.6256) was passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Biden on 23 December 2021.
- On 8 December 2021, US Congress passed H.Res. 317 condemning the Chinese government’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim peoples.
- Sanctions on Solar Suppliers. On 20 June 2021, the White House announced a series of sanctions on solar imports implicated in Uyghur forced labor, including a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on silica-based products made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Company, and five additions to the export-control Entity List. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) also known as the Bingtuan, was sanctioned for the fourth time since October 2019.
- This action brings the total to 94 punitive sanctions imposed by the U.S. in response to atrocity crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.
- Genocide determination. On 19 January 2021, the U.S. State Department determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has committed crimes against humanity and ongoing genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang, the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.
- Uyghur Human Rights Protection Act. A bipartisan bill (H.R.1630 and S.1080) was introduced in the House and Senate to provide a pathway for Uyghur refugee resettlement in the U.S. (March and July 2021)
- Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. On 15 July 2021, the Senate unanimously approved legislation to ban all imports of goods sourced or produced in the Uyghur Region. The bill is pending in the House. A previous version of the bill passed overwhelmingly in the House 22 Sept 2020.
- Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. In a historic first, the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act is enacted. Requires Magnitsky human rights sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for gross human rights crimes and five comprehensive reports to Congress. (17 June 2020)
- Import bans. The U.S. has banned the import of all cotton and tomato products produced in East Turkistan on account of forced labor on 13 January 2021. Earlier, the U.S. banned the import of all cotton and cotton products produced by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), the single biggest contributor to Uyghur forced labour in East Turkistan, on 2 December 2020. Starting in September 2019, the U.S. also banned imports from 9 other companies and government enterprises. In total, starting in October 2019, the U.S. has banned imports from 11 companies and government enterprises, in addition to the region-wide cotton and tomato ban.
- Export bans based on human rights violations. The U.S. has banned high-tech exports to 64 companies and police departments “implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the XUAR.” Announced in October 2019, June 2020, and July 2020. See below for details. The bans were imposed by the Commerce Department in a series of announcements from October 2019 through December 2021.
- Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory. On 13 July, 2021, six U.S. government departments jointly issued a detailed advisory for businesses warning of a “high risk of violating U.S. law” regarding imports from companies implicated in China’s brutal human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim Turkic peoples, including operating dystopian surveillance systems and employing the contemptible practice of forced labor. The Advisory updates a previous Advisory issued 1 July 2020.
- Visa bans on officials. In October 2019, the U.S. announced visa restrictions on officials responsible for or complicit in human rights violations, and called on the government of China to end the repression.
- Global Magnitsky human rights sanctions. Between July 2020 and December 2021, the U.S. imposed visa bans and asset freezes on 10 officials and 2 government agencies, including the Party Secretary of Xinjiang and the heads of the police and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC).
Civil society 📃
- On 31 December 2021, the Global Imams Council ruled that "participation and attendance in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are prohibited."
- On 9, December 2021, the Independent Uyghur Tribunal led by Sir Geoffrey Nice in the UK delivered its judgement that genocide and crimes against humanity are taking place in East Turkistan.
- A 8 March 2021 report found Chinese State violations under “each and every act” of the Genocide Convention, written by dozens of experts in international law, genocide studies, Chinese ethnic policies, and the Uyghur Region. The summary is available in Uyghur, French, Chinese, and other languages.
- 50 genocide-prevention organizations and experts called for a UN Commission of Inquiry on atrocity crimes against Uyghurs. The open letter calls for all governments to investigate atrocity crimes against Muslims in China. (14 January 2021)
- Global call for international human rights monitoring mechanisms on China, signed by over 300 human rights organizations: Open letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, UN Member States (9 September 2020)
- In December, 2020, Muslim groups around the world called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to end its silence on the Uyghur crisis. (18 December 2020)
- Muslim lawyers’ Statement of Solidarity with the Uyghur people: American Muslim Bar Association.
- New York City Bar Association Letter to Chinese State Leadership Regarding Human Rights Violations against Muslim and Turkic Peoples in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (28 August 2020)
- Civil society groups applaud Norway Oil Fund for divesting from Hikvision, the Chinese company with multi-million dollar contracts to place surveillance cameras in mosques, concentration camps, and homes.