UK lawmakers condemn China's treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang

A watchtower near what is believed to be a re-education camp in Hotan, China, on May 31, 2019. PHOTO: AFP PHOTO / BADUNG POLICE

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - More than 130 UK lawmakers wrote to Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming to condemn China's treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority and accuse Beijing of "ethnic cleansing."

As many as 1 million Uighurs have been detained in camps the Chinese government calls "voluntary education centres" in Xinjiang, where people also face curbs on practising their faith and are subject to state surveillance.

"The Chinese Government's actions must be stated for what they are: a systematic and calculated program of ethnic cleansing against the Uighur people," the cross-party members of the House of Commons and House of Lords wrote in a letter dated Tuesday (Sept 8).

"When the world is presented with such overwhelming evidence of gross human rights abuses, nobody can turn a blind eye."

China has repeatedly denied setting up re-education camps, instead saying it has established vocational centres aimed at preventing terrorism.

Liu has pushed back against accusations of ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang province, telling BBC TV in an interview in July that China treats every ethnic group as "equal."

The letter was coordinated by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, and signatories include the Tory Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, Liberal Democrat Party Leader Ed Davey, as well as MPs from the Green Party, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru.

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