New Zealand Declares China Committing ‘Human Rights Abuses’ To Uighur Muslims

by : Julia Banim on : 05 May 2021 17:23
New Zealand Parliament Unanimously Declares China Committing ‘Human Rights Abuses’ Against Uighur MuslimsPA Images

New Zealand’s Parliament has declared that China is committing ‘severe human rights abuses’ against Uighur Muslims.

A parliamentary motion concerning China’s actions in Xinjiang was agreed upon by all New Zealand MPs following a debate in the House on Wednesday, May 5.


In a speech made before parliament, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta stated that the New Zealand Government, alongside others, ‘will continue to call upon China in the strongest terms’, adding, ‘We call on China to uphold its human rights obligations.’

Protest about treatment of Uighur muslims PA Images

As per Reuters, the motion, which was put forward by the smaller ACT Party, was discussed and supported by all political parties.

However, this support was only achieved after the word ‘genocide’ was dropped from the text, with ACT Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden stating that she had to use the phrase ‘severe human rights abuses’ instead so as to secure the approval of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ruling Labour Party.


Speaking before parliament, Van Velden said:

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

As per The Guardian, Uighur people in New Zealand have been left disappointed with the omission of the term genocide, having previously called upon the government to declare it as such in an open letter:

We understand that New Zealand is not a military superpower, or a trade superpower, however, New Zealand is a moral superpower. We can influence the fate of the 20 million Uyghur people suffering back home.

We are desperate. For those of us in New Zealand, the most painful torture we face is social isolation … our friends, relatives and colleagues back home are either in prisons, concentration camps or subject to omnipresent surveillance and a total lack of freedom.

Protest about treatment of Uighur muslims PA Images

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has defended the decision not to use the word ‘genocide’ in the motion, stating that, although the government had raised concerns with China several times, the situation in Xinjiang had not officially been designated as constituting a genocide.

Mahuta added:

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

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stands before flagPA Images

China has denied all accusations of human right abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, and has reportedly expressed ‘strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition’ to the motion, as per a statement from its Wellington embassy.

The statement reads as follows:

Using Xinjiang-related issues to pressure China is futile and will only undermine mutual trust between the two sides.


In April, British MPs voted to declare that China was committing genocide, with Britain and the EU now taking joint action with the US and Canada to place sanctions on Chinese officials connected with the mass internment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, China, Now


Reuters and 1 other
  1. Reuters

    New Zealand parliament says Uyghur rights abuses taking place in China

  2. The Guardian

    New Zealand draws back from calling Chinese abuses of Uyghurs genocide