Survivors disappointed at Downing Street snub over genocide amendment meeting
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Survivors disappointed at Downing Street snub over genocide amendment meeting

Dorit Oliver Wolff and Ruth Barnett asked to meet Boris Johnson a month ago over the treatment of Uyghur Muslims but have not received an invitation

Ruth Barnett and Dorit Oliver Wolff
Ruth Barnett and Dorit Oliver Wolff

Two Holocaust survivors whose call to meet Boris Johnson over the genocide amendment attracted 50,000 backers, have expressed disappointment that Downing Street has so far failed to reach out.

Pressure is mounting on the government to do more to crack down on China amid accusations of forced labour and sterilisation targeting the minority Uyghur Muslim community. Up to one million Uyghurs are thought to have been detained in re-education camps.

The government is currently engaged in a battle with the House of Lords which has amended the trade bill on three occasions as it seeks to give judges the power to rule on whether a genocide is taking place. Peers wanted to see such a ruling limiting the ability of governments to trade with any offending nation.

After the government blocked a Commons vote on the latest Lords amendment in February. Dorit Oliver Wolff and Ruth Barnett, who fled the Nazis on the kindertransport, wrote directly to the prime minister. Number 10 thanked the pair for their letter in a statement to Jewish News, and said he would be responding – but they are yet to hear from him a month on.

Barnett said: “I am very disappointed that he hasn’t been willing to engage, as we have positive suggestions. The overriding important thing is that genocide gets named so that we can start to call out the countries where it is happening.”

Uyghur Muslims held in ‘re-education’ camps in north west China

Wolff added: “If Boris Johnson would know about it, I couldn’t possible imagine that he would not want to grant me and Ruth a meeting. I don’t believe it possible, having spent time with him on a train journey from Eastbourne to London, he was sympathetic, compassionate and caring about our experiences in the Holocaust. If people have blocked the message from getting to him, they should be ashamed because this is a matter of lives. We are all human.”

The issue is due to return to the Commons for the third time today. But if an amendment from Bob Neill succeeds, there will again be no vote on the genocide amendment. The government – which has announced fines for UK companies that fail to show efforts to ensure their supply chains are free of forced labour – says the final say over trade matters should rest with politicians rather than judges.

Ahead of the vote, the two Holocaust survivors are joined by survivors of Rwanda and Bosnia, Eric Murangwa and Safet Vukalic to make a last-ditch appeal to vote down the Neill amendment. “We either continue business as usual or we don’t. Either genocide is a crime and a matter for judges or we don’t.

“Trade is not worth the price of a people. If you vote for the genocide amendment you can contribute to making ‘never again’ a reality. If you vote for the Neill amendment you will keep the same again a reality.”

More than 100 leaders of students societies nationwide have also written to the foreign secretary – who has denounced actions against the Uyghurs as amounting to “barbarism” – urging him to endorse the genocide amendment.

Eve Navias, Co-chair of Students for Uyghurs said: “For too long, the government has ignored and overlooked young people in policymaking. Today’s youth, and university students in particular, are incredibly passionate about combatting genocide. Students from across the political spectrum have come out strongly in favour of the genocide amendment. In voting against the amendment, the government is not only letting down Uyghurs and other persecuted peoples but also British youth, who want our country to be world leaders in upholding international human rights.”

In a letter to one of the leading rebel Tories Nus Ghani MP following a campaign with Jewish News, Johnson said: “Please be assured that the situation in Xinjiang remains a priority for this government and we will continue to take action in response to the gross and egregious human rights violations taking place in the region.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments