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French Parliament Calls Persecution of Uyghurs Genocide — Radio Free Asia

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France’s parliament on Thursday officially called China’s persecution of its Uyghur minority a genocide, joining other Western governments and legislatures that have issued similar statements.

Lawmakers voted 169 to 1 in favor of a non-binding resolution that strongly criticizes Chinese policies in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It also urges the French government to take action to try to help protect the 12 million Uighurs who live there and to protect Uighurs living in France from Chinese intimidation and harassment.

The resolution was introduced by the opposition Socialist Party in the lower house but backed by President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche party. With its passage, France joins the United States and the parliaments of Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Belgium and the Czech Republic in declaring that China has committed genocide against the Uyghurs.

The statement is another stain on China’s international reputation just two weeks before the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, for which the United States and other Western countries have announced diplomatic boycotts in sign of opposition to the host country’s dismal human rights record.

“French deputies had an appointment today with a moment in history, with an important moment, since they were asked to recognize the Uyghur genocide perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party regime, with mass internment, torture, forced labor, organ trafficking, forced sterilization – basically, everything that constitutes the regime to methodically eliminate a whole part of a people”, declared Boris Vallaud, deputy in the National Assembly and spokesperson for the Socialist Party.

“This fight continues and must then be done essentially to seize every opportunity to tell the regime in Beijing that freedoms and human rights must be defended everywhere and that the Uyghur people have the right to live free”, a- he declared.

Dilnur Reyhan (2nd from L), president of the European Uyghur Institute, and Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress (R), stand with two French lawmakers outside parliament following the passage of a resolution calling China's persecution of its Uyghur minority genocide, in Paris, January 20, 2022. Credit: RFA
Dilnur Reyhan (2nd from L), president of the European Uyghur Institute, and Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress (R), stand with two French lawmakers outside parliament following the passage of a resolution calling China’s persecution of its Uyghur minority genocide, in Paris, January 20, 2022. Credit: RFA

Dilnur Reyhan, president of the Paris-based European Uyghur Institute, which has led efforts to urge the French parliament to recognize Uyghur rights abuses as genocide, said the motion’s approval was a significant victory for the persecuted community.

“This passing of the Uyghur genocide resolution is no small victory for us,” she said. “It’s a solid all-around win.”

The organization also wants the French government to impose a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, which begin on February 4; urge the European Union to adopt measures preventing the entry into the European market of goods made by Uyghur slaves; and to ask the UN to pressure China to close the detention camps, Dilnur said.

China has detained around 1.8 million mostly Muslim Uyghurs and other Turkish minorities in a vast network of internment camps where they are subjected to violence and other human rights abuses. men, such as torture, forced labor and forced sterilization of women. The Chinese government denied reports of violence and said the camps were vocational training centers meant to prevent religious extremism.

“In defiance of facts and common sense, the relevant resolution constitutes a deliberate defamation and stigmatization against China and a brutal interference in China’s internal affairs. We strongly oppose it and strongly condemn it,” the Chinese Embassy in France said of the passing of the resolution.

“Sensational claims about Xinjiang such as ‘genocide’ are pure lies based on prejudice and hostility towards China. Their goal is not to uphold human rights at all, but to contain China’s development and undermine inter-ethnic solidarity and stability in Xinjiang,” the embassy said in statements on its website. .

China has also expressed concern that the resolution will seriously damage relations between the two countries.

Uyghur activist groups, however, welcomed the decision by the National Assembly, the lower house of the French parliament, which also passed a resolution calling on the European Union to hold companies accountable for their illegal labor practices that facilitate genocide. uyghur.

“In France today, lawmakers rejected the actions of this regime, and instead condemned this genocide as unacceptable, and called for the regulation of the financial engine that powers it,” said Rushan Abbas, executive director of the U.S. campaign for the Uyghurs, in a statement. “France has taken its place on the right side of history.”

Dolkun Isa, president of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC), called the adoption of the resolution “a crucial step towards wider international recognition of the Uyghur genocide”.

“We call on the French government to follow the position of its parliament and make concerted efforts with international partners to put an end to these unspeakable crimes,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the British Parliament unanimously passed a motion put forward by lawmaker Nusrat Ghani, calling on the British government to carry out an urgent assessment of whether Uyghurs are at risk of genocide.

In April 2021, the House of Commons voted unanimously to label abuses against Uyghurs and other Turkish Muslims as part of a policy of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Witness Patigul Talip (L) reacts as she speaks on the first day of hearings at the
Witness Patigul Talip (L) reacts as she speaks on the first day of hearings at the ‘Uyghur Tribunal’, a panel of UK-based lawyers and rights experts investigating allegations of abuse against the Uyghurs in China, in London, June 4, 2021. Credit: AFP

Translated by Alim Seytoff for RFA’s Uyghur service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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