The UK All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief welcomes the UK Government’s introduction of a global human rights sanctions regime. According to the Foreign Secretary, who announced the plans on July 7 2020, this regime “will enable [the UK Government] to impose travel bans and asset freezes against those involved in serious human rights violations”.
The APPG has been calling for the introduction of such a system for several years and is delighted that the Government has decided to challenge violators of human rights around the world. The APPG particularly welcomes the Government’s decision to apply sanctions against Burmese military leaders who are responsible for what has been described by the UN as the “textbook ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.” The APPG hopes that these sanctions will send a strong and clear message that those responsible for egregious violations of human rights will no longer be able to act with impunity.
However, while the APPG welcomes the new sanctions regime, we are concerned that no Chinese Communist Party officials have been included on the list of those who will be targeted by sanctions. The Government in Beijing’s new so-called national security law in Hong Kong is but the latest example of its increasing disdain for the human rights of its own citizens.
In Xinjiang, in Western China, upwards of a million Uighur Muslims are in concentration camps – 75 years on from the closure of the last concentration camps for Jewish people in Europe. These prisoners have faced all manner of harsh treatment and recent reports indicate that Uighur women have even been subject to forced sterilisation. In addition, an independent tribunal in London recently concluded that forced organ harvesting of religious prisoners of conscience has undoubtedly taken place with the knowledge and support of the Chinese Communist Party. If the perpetrators of these most heinous crimes receive no sanction, then this severely undermines the legitimacy of any system of human rights protection.
Therefore, the APPG urges the UK Government to join the US in applying targeted sanctions against members of the Chinese Government for these grave and deeply concerning human rights violations.