WUC Applauds Resolution on the Uyghur Crisis by the European Parliament

Press Release – For immediate release
17 December 2020
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
 www.uyghurcongress.org
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The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) applauds the adoption of a strong urgency resolution by the European Parliament on the Uyghur crisis, which was passed by an overwhelming majority today. This marks the fourth time in just over two years that the European Parliament addresses the Uyghur crisis in a resolution. Though the WUC welcomes the continuing resolve of the European Union (EU) to speak out, the urgency of the situation for the Uyghur people in East Turkistan, which has worsened dramatically since the last resolution in 2019, demands that the EU now puts its words into action to stop the Uyghur genocide. 

Exactly one year ago, on the 17th of December 2019, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the situation of Uyghurs, echoing earlier resolutions by calling for an end to the mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and to close the internment camps, amongst other recommendations. Though first steps have been taken in 2020 to implement these recommendations, such as the adoption of the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime and the introduction of procedures including mandatory due diligence legislation to ensure that European companies are not profiting from Uyghur forced labour, it is now time for the European Union to adequately deploy these initiatives, and take concrete steps to put an end to the Uyghur genocide.

In this regard, it is encouraging that while many concerns of the 2019 resolution were reiterated in today’s resolution, the latter’s text is notably stronger and expands on previous recommendations. For example, with regards to Uyghur forced labour, today’s resolution recognizes the pervasiveness of this government-led campaign and the need for European-wide mandatory human rights supply chain due diligence legislation, and calls upon businesses to terminate business relations when these are linked to human rights violations or where it is impossible to ascertain if there is violation. Moreover, it called for a swift evaluation to adopt sanctions against Chinese officials and entities such as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

The resolution also urged the EU to proactively work towards an independent United Nations (UN) inquiry on China with a view to ensuring accountability for the atrocities committed against the Uyghur people. The resolution moreover called for the protection of Uyghurs in third countries from Chinese threats and harassment and deportation, an import ban on goods produced by Uyghur forced labour, as well as an independent fact-finding mission to East Turkistan.

During the debates on the resolution, MEP Raphael Glucksmann firmly condemned the EU and the international community for failing to take action: “I’m accusing the Chinese authorities for the worst crime of the 21st century […]. I am also accusing the international community for being a part of this crime, for abetting it through its silence, and I’m also accusing all of the Muslims countries […] that support the Chinese policy of destroying mosques. I’m also accusing Nike and other multinational corporations that are taking advantage of slavery, and […] EU decision makers for lacking courage.”

Many MEPs specifically expressed their concerns about Uyghur forced labour, highlighting the need for urgent action from the EU and its businesses. “Products manufactured by Uyghur forced labour should not land on the EU markets”, said MEP Reinhardt Bütikofer. Furthermore, MEP Yannick Jadot stated that “in the name of European values, in the name of the fight against genocide, in the name of fundamental freedoms, I call upon European leaders […] to suspend all [trade] negotiations with China as long as fundamental rights are violated.

“I welcome the adoption of this strong resolution by the European Parliament, which shows its continued resolve to speak out on the Uyghur genocide”, WUC President Dolkun Isa said. “As many MEPs stated during today’s plenary session, it is now time for the European Council and Commission, as well as all EU Member States, to act decisively and take coordinated and appropriate action. Silence and inaction are unjustifiable”

Ultimately, whereas the WUC applauds and is encouraged by the European Union’s continuing attention to, and stronger condemnation of, the atrocities against the Uyghur people by the Chinese government, concrete, meaningful action is now needed from the European Union. The recommendations in today’s resolution provide clear guidelines, but it is imperative that these are put to action. The WUC therefore once more reiterates its calls on EU Member States to work together to implement these measures and hold perpetrators of the Uyghur genocide accountable.