New Zealand slams China's treatment of Uighurs, doesn't label it 'genocide'

WION Web Team
Wellington Published: May 05, 2021, 02:52 PM(IST)

Atrocities against Uighurs Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

All parties discussed and supported a motion by the smaller ACT Party but only after it was watered down to drop the word "genocide" from the text.

The New Zealand parliament declared "severe human rights abuses" were taking place in China, but stopped short of labelling the situation as a "genocide".

China's treatment of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province has been unanimously voted as a severe human rights abuse on Wednesday in New Zealand parliament.

The Parliament shied away from terming the act as a genocide, put forward by the opposition.

All parties discussed and supported a motion by the smaller ACT Party but only after it was watered down to drop the word "genocide" from the text.

In parliament, ACT's deputy leader, Brooke van Velden, said she had to insert the phrase "severe human rights abuses" instead, to secure the approval of the ruling Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"Our conscience demands that if we believe there is a genocide, we should say so," Van Velden added.

The Chinese embassy in Wellington did not immediately respond to telephone calls to seek comment.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta defended the government's decision not to use the term, saying it had raised concerns several times with China but had not formally designated the situation as constituting a genocide.

"This is not due to a lack of concern," added Mahuta. "Genocide is the gravest of international crimes and a formal legal determination should only be reached following a rigorous assessment based on international law."

She added that New Zealand in concert with other governments would keep up its calls for China to provide meaningful and unfettered access to the United Nations and other independent observers to ascertain the situation.

Nations such as the United States and Canada have declared China’s actions in far western Xinjiang as genocide, but Australia's parliament stopped short of a similar move this year.

(With inputs from agencies)

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