World Uyghur Congress calls for Magnitsky sanctions on China over human rights abuse

Brussels: Calling for Magnitsky sanctions on the Chinese leadership and other entities, Benedict Rogers, the co-founder of Hong Kong Watch and adviser to the World Uyghur Congress said that human rights are “under severe assault in China since the Tiananmen massacre”.

Speaking at a video conference hosted by Brussels Press Club on Monday under the theme ‘China’s continuing human rights violations: is it time to impose “Magnitsky” sanctions?’, Rogers said, “I want China to be free, I want the people of China to have their human rights reinstated, but it is the regime of the Chinese Communist Party that is the problem.”

The Magnitsky sanctions are modeled after the US Magnitsky Act. It was passed in 2012 in memory of Russian lawyer and tax advisor, Sergei Magnitsky, who died while being in Russian detention in 2009 after being tortured and denied medical treatment. While highlighting that the ongoing atrocities on Uyghurs indicate genocide, Rogers said that the human rights abuse in Xinjiang and Hong Kong justifies the demand for Magnitsky sanctions on China.

“I absolutely agree that this has all the indicators of a Genocide, and indeed has been recognised as a Genocide by the United States, by the Canadian parliament, by the Dutch parliament. The issues of the Uyghurs and the situation in Hong Kong in and of themselves should be enough to justify Magnitsky sanctions and an entire re-evaluation of our relationship (with China)… Human rights are under the most severe assault in China since the Tiananmen massacre, and in some respects since the Cultural Revolution,” he added.

During the conference, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the British Conservative Party and Secretary of State, informed that the members of the House of Commons are in discussion to link any future trade agreements of the UK with severe human rights abuse in China.

“Right now in the House of Commons we are engaged in an attempt to try to link any future trade agreement with severe human rights abuses, and in this case, Genocide… The whole issue of China is, I think, a big problem facing the free world now,” he said.

Echoing similar views on the matter, Finnish Member of Parliament (MEP) Alviina Alametsa urged the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) to put a stop to the ongoing human rights abuse in China.

She said, “China commits crimes against humanity, crimes against international law and human rights, and we cannot stay silent. I believe that the EU and the UN must do everything in their power to end this situation and to stop these violations.”

“Sadly the pandemic has been used by the Chinese government to impose the national security law and crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong,” she highlighted while mentioning a possible boycott of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Beijing is going to hold the 2022 Winter Olympics from February 4 – February 20, but a shadow looms over its successful organisation due to global condemnation over its repressive policies on Tibetans, Uyghurs and coronavirus pandemic.

On the Uyghur issue, Ekber Turson, spokesman for the Belgian Uyghur Association, informed the panelists about the atrocities being faced by his own people.

He cited several cases of forced sterilisation, of threats against Uyghurs in Belgium, and their families at home in Xinjiang, issued by Chinese authorities.

During the conference, Belgian journalist and human rights defender Andy Vermaut highlighted the Chinese oppression in Tibet since 1949.

He said, “It is easy for a human rights activist or a diplomat or a journalist to go to North Korea than Tibet”.

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