This is only the second time Jewish News has published a special front page in addition to the weekly newspaper – but few issues could warrant it or be more urgent than the human rights atrocities currently taking place against Uyghur Muslims under the world’s nose.
Reports and testimony mounts of mass incarcerations of one million people, of forced labour and sterilisation, of assaults on religious buildings and culture.
Stephen Smith, who heads Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation and serves as UNESCO chair on genocide education, is in no doubt we are witnessing genocide.
Article II of the Genocide Convention includes “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part… imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group… forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”.
We are journalists so don’t pretend to be world authorities on definitions of genocide, but you don’t need to be to recognise the treatment meted out against a minority community in Xinjiang is horrific. Our foreign secretary certainly knows it.
His announcement last week of substantial fines for firms linked to slave labour is, of course, welcome but the UK must go much further. Our MPs have an opportunity to do so on Tuesday through an amendment to a trade bill.
Newly outside the EU, with free trade agreements the raft to which Boris clings, he needs to decide if he can afford to be choosy on the ethics of potential trading partners.
This week is the first test.
Unless the government backs down in the coming hours the Government will have already failed, but MPs can right that wrong and back an amendment on Tuesday that would let courts determine genocide in foreign lands.
If this is not a galvanising issue for us, with our history of facing persecution or prejudice, nothing ever will be
If – and only if – Britain’s most senior judges say a people are being wiped out, limits on trade with the perpetrator are imposed.
To Jewish News, which has been at the forefront of the campaign to highlight the plight of the Uyghurs, and MPs like Nus Ghani, Tom Tugendhat, Iain Duncan Smith, Lisa Nandy and Layla Moran, nothing could sound more reasonable.
If MPs do not back the amendment, it will be both their legacy and their job to explain to future generations why they did not make the Government stand up with adequate strength to China when these atrocities are taught to those not yet born, which it surely will be.
Make no mistake: we care how you vote.
This is an issue that should concern all right-thinking people but it has particular resonance for Jews.
For if this is not a galvanising issue for us, with our history of facing persecution or prejudice, nothing ever will be. Comments from the Board of Deputies this week make that crystal clear.
For the words ‘never again’ – which we will utter next week on Holocaust Memorial Day – to mean anything, any hint of oppression or genocide must be quashed at the first sign with every means at our disposal.
MPs can start on that essential path by backing the amendment tomorrow.
- NUS GHANI MP: We can halt the Uyghur genocide by ending business as usual
- MPs call for political action against China over Uyghur persecution
- BENEDICT ROGERS: Plight of the Uyghurs reflects pattern of oppression in China
- 30 rabbis and community leaders back bill urging end to Uyghur persecution
- Dominic Raab urges China to let UN visit Xinjiang over persecution of Uyghurs
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By Joe Millis