Two Shoah survivors call for Boris Johnson meeting over genocide amendment

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Two Shoah survivors call for Boris Johnson meeting over genocide amendment

Ruth Barnett and Dorit Oliver Wolff appealed to the PM to put pressure on China over Uyghur persecution, saying 'never again has failed' and is proving to be an 'empty promise'

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

Two Holocaust survivors have written to Boris Johnson ahead of a third vote about persecution of Uyghur Muslims in parliament.

Ruth Barnett and Dorit Oliver Wolff appealed to the prime minister to back renewed efforts, saying “we know the trauma of genocide” and as a result are “deeply concerned that the UK is not doing enough” about China’s actions against the minority community.

It is thought that up to 1 million Uyghurs are locked up in ‘re-education’ camps, with reports of forced sterilisation, forced labour, abuse and mass surveillance.

The two survivors said they are “writing to you to invite you to meet with us”, ahead of a vote in the House of Commons on the Genocide Amendment to the Trade Bill, likely to take place next week.

This comes after the PM said the government is “prioritising” the issue, despite whipping his MPs to remove two Lords amendments from the Trade Bill two weeks ago, including the Genocide Amendment. The bill will return to the Lords on Tuesday, before being brought back to MPs, in what is known as ‘ping pong’.

If the amendment passes in the Commons, it would force ministers to withdraw from any free trade agreement with any country which the High Court ruled is committing genocide.

Ruth Barnett, who arrived in the UK on the Kindertransport aged seven, and Serbia-born Dorit Oliver-Wolf tell Boris Johnson, that “any conscionable person cannot ignore that the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and other groups are facing genocide. We are watching on as one of the most egregious crimes is unfolding before our eyes”.

Reflecting in the message of Holocaust memorial day, they said in both a letter and a video posted online: “Sadly, we are not learning the lessons of the Holocaust”, but urged a U-turn, saying the UK “has a chance to be an international leader on this issue.

“So far, “never again” has failed”, they said. “It is proving to be an empty promise.”

Saying “trade is not worth the price of a people”, Ruth Barnett and Dorit Oliver Wolf “hope that you will accept our invitation, to ensure that we should never be in the position of commemorating the Uyghur genocide in the future.”.

A No 10 spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister thanks Ruth and Dorit for their letter and will be responding.”

As the Prime Minister has said, the human rights violations being carried out against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang are utterly abhorrent and we will continue to do our utmost to end these abuses.

Genocide is a crime and, like other crimes, whether it has occurred should be decided by competent courts and judges.”

The proposed amendment to the trade bill could embroil the courts in the formulation of trade policy and international relations, and risked undermining the separation of powers.”

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