Human rights violations in Xinjiang: Canada, UK and U.S. joint statement

Human rights violations in Xinjiang: Canada, UK and U.S. joint statement”

The highly symbolic move - reported by European Union diplomats and expected to be formally unveiled in the EU's official journal later on Monday - is the first time Brussels has hit Beijing over human rights abuses since it imposed an arms embargo in 1989 after Tiananmen Square.

Brussels imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Chen Mingguo, director of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, as well as senior Chinese officials Wang Mingshan and Wang Junzheng.

It has denied the allegations of abuse, claiming the camps are "re-education" facilities used to combat terrorism.

At the U.N. Human Rights Council in February, the United Kingdom foreign secretary said rights violations in Xinjiang are "beyond the pale" and "taking place on an industrial scale".

In a statement announcing the sanctions, Global Affairs Canada accused the four high-ranking officials of participating in "gross and systematic human rights violations" in Xinjiang.

What do we know about the sanctions?

One entity, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Public Security Bureau, was also sanctioned. It is the first time for three decades either institution has punished China for human rights abuses, and both will now be working hard to contain the potential political and economic fallout.

The sanctions came amid increasing global scrutiny over China's treatment of Uighurs.

The motion does not directly accuse China's government of genocide, but some MPs told the lower house that the persecution of Uyghurs met that threshold.

More than a million Uighurs and other minorities are estimated to have been detained in camps in Xinjiang.

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In China's Xinjiang region, satellite images show the destruction of numerous mosques. Like Tibet, it is autonomous, meaning - in theory - it has some powers of self-governance.

Uighurs living in the region speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.

The Chinese government has been accused of carrying out forced sterilisations on Uighur women and separating children from their families. BBC investigations have contained first-hand testimony of forced labour and systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture of detainees. Officials deny all charges of human rights abuses there.

The UK shadow foreign secretary, Lisa Nandy, described the announcement of UK sanctions against China as "a grubby, cynical, last-ditch attempt to buy votes ahead of a backbench rebellion later today".

The UK has an independent sanctions regime to the European Union, but it waited for the European Union to act before taking any measures against itself to avoid being singled out for punishment by China.

Under the sanctions, the European officials are barred from entering China or doing business with it. The German Green politician Reinhard Bütikofer, an active voice in the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group that attempts to reform the approach of democratic countries to China, was among five MEPs sanctioned.

Among those targeted was Adrian Zenz, a USA -based German scholar who has publicized abuses against minority groups in China's regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.

Mr Zenz has reported extensively on alleged abuses in Xinjiang.

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