Fri, 23 Apr 2021

London [UK], March 1 (ANI): Amid growing criticism of China for human rights abuses, British politicians and academicians have urged sanctions against the country for its treatment of the Uyghur community.

In a webinar hosted by The Open Forum, issues concerning growing atrocities in Xinjiang province were discussed on February 18 in London.

China is allegedly running, "concentration camps" in the name of, "education centres," destroying millions of Uyghur families. It has been widely reported but some women from these camps opened up for the first time ever, to the British broadcaster.

"They don't only rape but also bite all over your body, you don't know if they are human or animal," said Tursunay Ziawudun to the BBC.

Ziyawudun is an Uyghur woman who was detained in the so-called Chinese, "vocational, training and education centres."This BBC story opened the webinar: Call of Silence- the unheard cries of Uyghur women on the February 18 in London, moderated by Emma Murphy, US Correspondent of ITV News, who in 2020 became one of the first journalists to speak to a doctor from the region, who regretfully confessed to performing abortions, forced contraception and sterilisation operations on Uyghur women under duress from Chinese officials.

One of the panellists, Prof. Rachel Harris, from SOAS London, reminisced about the times she shared with Uyghur women in China and said, "By now we have heard so many testimonies from women who saw or directly experienced sexual violence, who escaped Xinjiang and now are based in different countries around the world. We have heard their voices from the US, Holland, France Sweden, Kazakhstan, Turkey and so on."She further added, "Time is long gone to dismiss these accounts and say there is not enough evidence. Not only is this abuse happening but it is wide-spread across the camp system. Considering that these are occurring at such a wide scale suggests that it should be condoned at a high level."Rahima Mahmut, UK director of World Uyghur Congress, musicians and award-winning translator of the poignant prison memoir 'The Land Drenched in Tears' by Soyungul Chanisheff, is an Uyghur who has not been able to contact her family for the past four years and has been tirelessly campaigning for Uyghur rights.

Speaking at the webinar, Rahima hailed the courage of the Uyghur women who have come out to reveal the violation of their dignity in Chinese camps despite the threat to their family. On being asked about the welfare of these women post the BBC interview she informed that these women have been harassed.

Qalbinur Sidiq, one of the women who gave the interview has, "received a video call from the local (Chinese) police." These threatening calls have warned, "if you continue then your brother, sister and family are here."Talking about these brave women, Rahima further said, "though they are safe in the country they are living in, but their mind is suffering from trauma and worry."The testimonies are compelling and should shake the global conscience into action. It's imperative that the voice of these courageous women is heard far and wide, Rahima said. The big question is that why has it not happened? Why is there no action, despite such wide reporting of atrocities? she asked.

Baroness Kennedy, Director, IBA, Human Rights Institute, London, herself a Human Rights Barrister, speaking about the legal impediment in the webinar said, "The problem we have got is that International Court of justice to which a Nation can bring another Nation that is doing this to their people, a veto can be exercised because China is on the security council and that gives them a special way of preventing the investigations into these crimes."In order to find a way through this deadlock Baroness Kennedy spoke about a new dimension in the form of an amendment to the trade bill currently going through the UK Parliament, "it's being suggested -there should be a procedure in Britain whereby a matter of such grievousness as what is happening to the Uyghur people should be brought in front of the British High Court for judges to determine whether there has been meeting of the legal tests as to whether genocide is happening."Even if this happens the British courts will not be able to punish but, "It is about making a declaration and I think it will have an impact on the behaviour and conduct of China," said Baroness Kennedy.

She further suggested that Britain should re-think its trading policy and asked, "Should we be trading with such a Nation?" She also proposed, "targeted sanctions against those who are administering this policy... they should not be allowed to enter democracies."Whilst sanctions can be an option, more needs to be done, opined Baroness Verma, Chair-UN women UK and Former Minister for Energy and Climate Change and International Development. Whilst praising the UK for leading a robust statement against China in the UN in 2019 and 2020, she also pointed to the fact that out of 190 plus countries only 38 joined hands with the UK in 2020 to support this statement.

"It's just a tiny spoon of people coming together," she said. Clearly, it's not enough. The reason, of course, China's economic might can twist the arms of many countries. While the issue needs to be addressed globally, practical hurdles cannot be overlooked.""Too much power condensed into too small a number of the countries that hoard power over rest of the globe...We have to ask - can we allow a small group of countries to become so powerful so that they can never really be strongly challenged enough?" said Baroness Verma. "As president of G7, UK can lead an initiative to engage in a "meaning dialogue," with the participating countries but it's time we hold a mirror to ourselves, as well.""We need to be able to break this silence of thinking that our commercial economics is above everything. And that we will carry on engaging with those countries whose human rights activities are so below acceptable. We need to start standing up," she added. (ANI)

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