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Uyghurs urge sanctions from Australia

By Tess Ikonomou

November 24, 2022

Australia's Uyghur community and survivors of China's camps have requested a meeting with Penny Wong (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Tortured Uyghurs are urging the federal government to place human rights at the forefront of negotiations with China, with fears atrocities being committed will be pushed to the side as the relationship with Beijing resets.

Australia's Uyghur community and survivors of China's detention camps in Xinjiang, were at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday, calling on the government to recognise human rights abuses as genocide, and to ban Chinese products "tainted" by slave labour.

The group, alongside Amnesty International, requested a meeting with Foreign Minister Penny Wong but were unable to secure one due to time constraints.

Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women's Association President Ramila Chanisheff described Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jingping as weak, saying human rights needed to be front and centre of discussions.

"You can't be sitting at the same table with someone who doesn't play the same field as you," she told reporters.

"We think that it might be at the forefront, but not in in the near future. This is what we're scared of, and this is urgent, this silent genocide is happening."

Ms Chanisheff asked why the government hadn't yet applied Magnitsky-style sanctions to Chinese "criminals" with penalties having been applied to Russian officials for their involvement in the war on Ukraine.

She also urged the government to back a private member's bill introduced in the Senate about slave labour, and said if they were serious about stopping products from entering the country "tainted" by it they would support the bill.

"We ask the Australian government please don't be selective on who you apply these rules to," Ms Chanisheff said.

"This hidden genocide that is occurring in Turkestan is killing all of us.

"I am together with the officials here to tell the ... Australian public that we need your support, and you need to talk to your MPs to please please take action now because we are disappearing from this world."

Kalbinur Sidik, a Uyghur survivor living in the Netherlands, said she was sent to a camp for two months in 2017 where she witnessed torture.

She was forcibly sterilised two years later.

"Women would also be tortured in various ways, including sexual abuse," she said.

"The guards would also use electric batons to insert in the private parts of the detainees."

Omar Bekali, another Uyghur living in the Netherlands, said he spent eight months in a camp, where he was chained and tortured.

"They would use horrible methods to torture us, interrogate us and humiliate us," he said.

"The worst methods of torture ... included inserting electric batons in our private parts."

The United Nations Human Rights Office in September released a report which detailed "serious human rights violations" in Xinjiang against the Uighur minority and other Muslims.

The report said the "arbitrary and discriminatory detention" may amount to crimes against humanity.

Beijing denied all violations in Xinjiang and issued a 131-page response to the report.


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