Press Release – For Immediate Release
22 April 2021
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
+49 89 5432 1999 or
 [email protected]

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) applauds the unanimous passing of the genocide motion in the British House of Commons today. By voting in favour of the motion, British MPs have taken a strong position that underscores that the UK cannot sit in silence whilst national parliaments around the world are debating this exact question. 

This vote comes weeks after the Genocide Amendment presented in the House of Commons, backed by a cross-party alliance of MPs as well as several civil society and religious groups, was defeated. This Amendment would have been a crucial step towards UK courts making a legal determination whether China’s actions against Uyghurs in East Turkistan constitute genocide. As for Uyghurs, this would have been an important opportunity for a legal determination on whether China’s actions constitute genocide. 

Even though UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that “the attribution of genocide is a judicial matter”, the members of Parliament have continually supported the Genocide Amendment and now the motion. 

“Uyghur survivors have begged for recognition of what is happening to them. The international community, including governments, parliaments, and civil society groups are moving towards a genocide designation’’, said WUC President Dolkun Isa. ‘’It is an important step in the right direction that British MPs have joined the momentum and call it what it is: a genocide.’’

WUC’s UK Director, Rahima Mahmut said in reaction to the news: “Statements of solidarity mean a lot, but Uyghurs need them to be followed up with meaningful action. Only when the Chinese government faces the consequences of its actions will it be deterred from further abuses. That the British parliament has unanimously recognised this as genocide is a major victory for all those who have been drawing attention to these abuses over many years.”

The passing of the genocide motion comes at a time where the question of genocide has been raised within various other governments in the international community. In February, both the Canadian and Dutch parliaments adopted a motion recognizing the Uyghur crisis as genocide. The latter became the first parliament in Europe to do so. Additionally, on his last day in office, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the U.S. had formally designated China’s crimes against Uyghurs as “crimes against humanity” and “genocide”, making it the first country to do so, which was reiterated by the Biden Administration, in its recent Annual Human Rights report. 

Legal experts have also added their voice to the debate, as leading lawyers at the Essex Court Chambers (London), followed by 50 international legal experts, published legal opinions concluding that the available evidence credibly establishes that crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide have been committed. 

The WUC expresses its heartfelt thanks to all supporters of the genocide motion, both to those MPs who have voted in favour as well as those from civil society who have advocated tirelessly for its adoption. WUC calls upon other governments to follow suit and make concrete efforts to work towards a legal determination of the crimes against Uyghurs.