Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Will Labour condemn genocide in Xinjiang?

ACT is planning to introduce a motion to parliament condemning genocide in Xinjiang:

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 Chinese government's actions have been found to be genocidal by US think tanks and the US government. Human Rights Watch documents pervasive crimes against humanity, including enslavement, torture, mass incarceration, family separation and enforced disappearances, but they stop short of calling it "genocide" because they feel they cannot document the necessary intent. From my POV, its pretty clear: China is engaging in an ethnicity-based sterilisation campaign. And that makes it genocide.

Will a motion from the NZ parliament make a difference? As with the declaration of a climate emergency, that depends on whether we actually act on it. But I expect the government to vote for this (or make such a declaration itself), and to start imposing sanctions. Sadly, I expect them to make excuses, just as past governments have over this issue, or war, or pretty much anything. While Labour loves to celebrate its past of taking bold stands for an independent, moral foreign policy (e.g. over nuclear testing under Kirk, and the nuclear ban under Lange), those days are long gone.

(As for the Greens, I take it as a given they will support it, and if they don't, they're going to have some pretty serious explaining to do).