EU ambassadors approve sanctioning China over Uighur abuses

EU ambassadors approve China sanctions over Uighur crackdown
2 min read
18 March, 2021
EU ambassadors agreed on implementing fresh sanctions on four Chinese individuals over mass abuse of the country's Uighur Muslim minority
Uighur Muslims face concentration camp-like conditions [Getty]

European Union ambassadors have agreed on implementing fresh sanctions on four Chinese individuals and one entity over Beijing's crackdown on Uighur Muslims

The sanctions, which consist of asset freezes and travel bans, fall under the umbrella of the bloc’s Magnitsky Act. They will formally be approved at a meeting of EU foreign minister on Monday.

The penalties are part of a sanctions package that aims to penalise several countries over human rights abuses.

The package includes 11 individuals and four entities in six countries, according to the diplomats, as reported by news website Politico.

Among those facing sanctions are two Russian individuals involved in purported gay rights violations in Chechnya. Other sanctions individuals and entities included are from Eritrea, Libya, North Korea and South Sudan.

China has incessantly denied allegations of human rights abuses against Uighurs, saying the country is trying to fight Islamist extremism.

China’s ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, said on Tuesday that the government’s “deradicalisation centres” for Muslims in Xinjiang are “not entirely different” from those found in Britain, France and the US.”

Read also: Holocaust survivors urge UK to stand up for Uighurs ahead of Genocide Bill vote

"Sanctions based on lies could be interpreted as a deliberate attack on China’s security and development,” he warned.

As many as 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are held in detention camps in China's northwest province in Xinjiang, according to rights groups.

Several reports have accused Chinese authorities of carrying out major rights abuses against Uighur women in particular, including through systemic rape, sexual abuse and forms of forced birth control.

Earlier this month, a report written by dozens of experts revealed that China has broken every single provision in the United Nations Convention on Genocide – to which China is a signatory – over its treatment of Uighurs.

More than 50 experts, including lawyer Rayhan E Asat, whose sister served time in a Uighur concentration camp, came together to collect and examine key evidence from China that proves it breached five articles of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

They collected their findings in a 55-page report published by the Newlines Institute For Strategy and Policy, a Washington-based thinktank.

Experts based their findings on first-hand testimonies from Uighur Muslims and studied China’s legislative changes pertaining to minority groups, as well as speeches and statements given by Chinese officials which formed the basis of their results.

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