The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed sanctions Friday on a leading British Catholic human rights campaigner who highlighted widespread abuses in Xinjiang.
The Chinese authorities announced the measures March 26 against David Alton and eight other U.K. citizens, as well as four institutions critical of the country’s human rights record.
The individuals are banned from entering China, Hong Kong, and Macau, and Chinese citizens are forbidden to do business with them.
Alton, an independent member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the U.K. parliament, noted that the step followed the U.K. government’s introduction of sanctions against four senior Chinese officials on Monday over China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.
Writing on his website March 26, Alton said: “The imposition of tit-for-tat sanctions is a crude attempt to silence criticism. But the CCP needs to learn that you can’t silence the whole world and that the first duty of a parliamentarian is to use their voice on behalf of those whose voices have been silenced.”
Around a million Uyghurs have been detained in re-education camps in northwest China. Inside the camps, they are reportedly subjected to forced labor, torture, and political indoctrination. Outside the camps, Uyghurs are monitored by pervasive police forces and facial recognition technology.
The Chinese government has defended its policy of mass detention and re-education as an appropriate measure against terrorism.
Writing on his Twitter account on Friday, British prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The MPs and other British citizens sanctioned by China today are performing a vital role shining a light on the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uyghur Muslims.”
“Freedom to speak out in opposition to abuse is fundamental and I stand firmly with them.”
Alton, 70, has served in the U.K. parliament since 1979, first as an MP and then from 1997 in the Lords, with the title Lord Alton of Liverpool.
Read more at National Catholic Register