UK: Chinese Uyhgurs call for arrest of Xinjiang Governor

Political refugee groups from Xinjiang expressed shock at the UK Foreign Office's decision to invite him. One of them called it "incomprehensible".

London: The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a London-based dissident group, have requested the British Attorney General for permission to arrest the Governor of the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang and prosecute him if he visits London next week.

In a statement, the WUC said that Xinjiang Governor Erkin Tuniyaz, was responsible for “severe human rights violations perpetrated against Uyghur people and other Turkic groups in the Northwest of China which amount to torture”.

This is a part of China’s “deradicalisation” policy against the Uyghurs, who are mostly Muslims.

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“Evidence has been passed to the (London) Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes team, SO15, for the investigation, which may lead to the arrest of Tuniyaz,” it added.

China has been running a vast network of concentration camps in the Uyghur region for years.

A man, Erbakit Otarbay, described by the WUC as a survivor of a camp, is represented by Michael Polak, an award-winning human rights lawyer.

Polak was quoted by The Guardian as asserting: “Because the client is in the US and an alleged victim of torture, he’s entitled to bring a case against Tuniyaz.”

Tuniyaz will be visiting the London at the Rishi Sunak government’s invitation.

Political refugee groups from Xinjiang expressed shock at the UK Foreign Office’s decision to invite him. One of them called it “incomprehensible”.

A section of British MPs were equally outraged. They alleged Tuniyaz had played “a central role in the persecution of Uyghurs”.

Two years ago, the British Parliament declared the treatment of Uyghur Muslims as genocide.

In 2021, the UnS sanctioned Tuniyaz and more recently a group of UN special rapporteurs protested against the separation of 1 million Tibetan children from their families.

Earlier, it had branded the persecution of Uyghur Muslims as serious human rights violations.

Uyghur activists Rahima Mahmut and Rayhan Asat affirmed: “Engagement must have its limits. Meeting and greeting Chinese Communist party officials that have been accused of direct involvement in the implementation of genocidal policies, including mass forced sterilisations and concentration camps, must be a red line.”

The Foreign Office said: “We’ve agreed to meet him (Tuniyaz) at a senior official level, and intend to use the opportunity to press for change in China’s approach and to make requests on specific issues, including individual cases.”

Under Britain’s Universal Jurisdiction legislation, officials of foreign governments, other than heads of government, can potentially be prosecuted if they visit the UK.

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