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Lord David Alton Is Not Remaining Silent on China and Human Rights

On March 26, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed sanctions on the British Catholic parliamentarian Lord David Alton

The reason? He had highlighted widespread human-rights abuses in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

The Chinese authorities imposed these measures on Alton and eight other British citizens, as well as on four institutions, all deemed critical of China’s human rights’ record. Alton told the Register April 20, “These sanctions have been imposed as a crude attempt to intimidate and silence parliamentarians.” 

He added, “Those who have been sanctioned have been shining a light on genocide in Xinjiang, the destruction of democracy in Hong Kong, military threats against Taiwan, and systematic persecution of religious minorities — all committed by the Chinese Communist Party.”

Lord Alton, an independent member of the House of Lords, the upper house of the U.K. Parliament, sees this latest action by the CCP as not insignificant, followed on from the British government’s recent imposition of sanctions on China as a result of its treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.

“[The Uyghurs] have been turned into slave labor,” explained Alton. “I have visited Western China. I have taken evidence from Uyghurs who have escaped. They have described torture, sterilization and forced abortion. They have been subject to mass incarceration, to propagandistic ‘reeducation’ to renounce their religious and cultural beliefs.” 

Since 2014, without any legal process, the Chinese authorities have pursued policies leading to more than 1 million Muslims (the majority of them ethnically Uyghurs) being held in state-run internment camps. The Chinese government has defended this policy of mass detention and reeducation as an appropriate response to terrorism. However, this view is not shared by other countries. This year, on Jan. 19, the United States was the first country to declare such human-rights abuses “a genocide.” This month, the U.K.’s House of Commons unanimously passed a non-binding motion recognizing the ongoing Chinese actions as genocide.

With regard to the Chinese treatment of the Uyghurs, Alton sees worrying historical parallels. He points out that the British Board of Jewish Deputies has drawn a parallel with the sufferings of the Uyghurs today and those experienced by European Jews during the Holocaust. Yet, for many in the West, Alton senses that, just as in 1930s Europe, it is a case of “business as usual.” The public, he says, “should be telling their governments and multinational companies that they must stop doing business based on slave labor in Xinjiang and recalibrate their over-dependency on a country that is responsible for the crime above all crimes: genocide.” 

Read more at National Catholic Register

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