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ACT party will file motion asking Parliament to debate [East Turkistan] Xinjiang ‘genocide’

The below article was published by Stuff | Photo credit: ROSA WOODS/STUFF

The ACT party will ask Parliament to debate a motion declaring China’s oppression of the Uyghur minority an act of “genocide”, a move that could compel the Labour Government to consider symbolically admonishing Beijing for the abuses.

The motion, similar to that passed in both the United Kingdom and Canadian parliaments, will ask MPs to vote on whether the human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China amount to genocide, and whether they should call upon the Government to “act to fulfil its obligation” under United Nations conventions.

The success of the motion hinges on the support of Labour, which holds an overwhelming majority in the House. Nonetheless, the prospect is likely to inflame the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, which has already spoken to the National Party about its concern over the Parliament making a declaration of genocide.

“We cannot sit by as a democratic nation if crimes against humanity are occurring in one of our largest trading partners. It’s a matter of human rights,” ACT party foreign affairs spokeswoman Brooke van Velden told Stuff.

“There have been increasing reports of atrocities in the Xinjiang region, and the inability for the UN to independently go into China and see first hand what is happening is a reason for us to debate what is happening under the Chinese Communist Party’s watch,” she said.

“If the Labour Government will not put forward their own motion, the ACT party will.”

Van Velden said ACT would file the motion with the Parliament’s Office of the Clerk and the Speaker on Wednesday.

The proposed motion would be similar to that used in the UK Parliament last week, reading: “This House believes that Uighurs and other ethnic religious minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region are suffering crimes against humanity and genocide, and calls on the Government to act to fulfil its obligation under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and all relevant instruments of international law to bring it to an end.”

Under the 1948 United Nations genocide convention, ratified by New Zealand, “genocide” is defined as committing any of a number of acts with intent to destroy whole or part of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.Don’t miss important politics newsGet mobile alerts

New Zealand has only recognised genocide three times in the past: The Holocaust, the Rwandan massacre of the Tutsi, and genocide conducted by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta told Newshub Nation at the weekendthat she would take advice on the possibility of the Government – not the Parliament – labelling the human rights abuse in Xinjiang as genocide.

Mahuta’s office did not respond to a request for further comment on Tuesday.

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