New Zealand's parliament has unanimously voted to formally declare China is committing 'severe' human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the country.
A debate was held in New Zealand's House yesterday (May 5) and all Kiwi MPs agreed to the parliamentary motion.
That motion was related to China's ongoing alleged actions in Xinjiang against the Uighur population.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said following the vote that China should 'uphold its human rights obligations' and they will 'continue to call upon China in the strongest terms'.
The motion was introduced by the ACT Party, however they initially submitted it with the word 'genocide' instead of 'severe human rights abuses'.
After deliberation, the decision was made to drop the more egregious word and opt for a softer tone.
Nanaia Mahuta understands that move might result in their statement being less demanding, however they are sticking by their phrasing.
"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," she said following the vote.
The Uighur people in New Zealand have released a collective statement highlighting their disappointment that the declaration didn't use the word genocide.
"We understand that New Zealand is not a military superpower, or a trade superpower, however, New Zealand is a moral superpower," the statement read.
"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."
There has been steady attention on China over its alleged treatment of Uighur people in the country's far west.
The first independent, non-governmental investigation has claimed the Chinese government is causing 'an ongoing genocide against the Uyghur' and is 'in breach of the UN Genocide Convention'.
The Genocide Convention has been signed by 152 countries, including China, and requires countries to avoid five outcomes, otherwise they could be considered guilty of genocide.
Countries must not be involved in killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; be found to be deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; impose measures intended to prevent births within the group; or forcibly transfer children of the group to another group.
It's believed as many as two million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups have been forced into detention centres all over Xinjiang, a massive region in the country's far west.
There are allegations the detainees there have been sexually, physically and mentally abused, and forced to renounce Islam and adopt a Chinese lifestyle.
The recent report from the independent thinktank has accused China of demonstrating 'intent to destroy, in a whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group', directly linking their alleged actions with breaching the Genocide Convention they signed up to.
Their investigation found evidence of systemic torture and cruelty, including sexual abuse, interrogations and indoctrinations, as well as mass deaths and selective death sentences.
It also found evidence that Uighur families have been ripped apart and separated in detention camps, with children sent to orphanages and people who are able to give birth forced into sterilisation.
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