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Foreign Policy

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 2 June 2021

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Questions (124, 125)

Peadar Tóibín


124. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the official position of Ireland on the actions of the Chinese Communist Party towards the Muslim Uighur population. [29897/21]

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Peadar Tóibín


125. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the motions passed by the Canadian and Dutch Parliaments that the actions of the Chinese government towards its Uighur population constitutes genocide. [29898/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 125 together.

Ireland, along with our EU partners, remains deeply concerned about the treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the province of Xinjiang. We are closely following the situation, including in relation to reports of systemic abuse, torture, arbitrary detention, forced labour, forced sterilisations, and restrictions on freedom of religion and belief. 

We raise our concerns with Chinese authorities in both bilateral and multilateral contexts. Most recently, I directly raised the matter during my meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on 30 May.

Ireland also raised concerns regarding the situation in Xinjiang in our National Statement at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year, and previously in our National Statement at the UN Human Rights Council in September last year, which urged China to allow unrestricted access to the region for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ireland has also supported a number of joint initiatives in the UN system. We joined a Statement at the UN Third Committee on 6 October 2020 that reiterates our grave concern regarding the situation in Xinjiang, and recalls the exceptional letter of concern issued by 50 UN Special Procedures mandate holders. This letter called on China to respect human rights and to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers. 

In response to the situation, under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR), the EU adopted sanctions on 22 March 2021 against 1 entity and 4 individuals in China due to their involvement in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The EUGHRSR allows the EU to target serious human rights violations and abuses by State and non-State actors worldwide. It enables the EU to respond rapidly and in a more tangible and direct way for human rights, one of the fundamental values of the EU and its foreign policy.

Regarding the use of the term “genocide” in relation to this situation, this is a term which has a particular meaning under international law. The recognition of events definitively as genocide involves an analysis of both facts and law. Ireland follows the practice of recognising genocide where this has been established by a judgment of an international court, or where there is international consensus on the matter.

An approach whereby the EU, its Member States and other like-minded States continue to press for better access to the region, particularly for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to better establish the realities on the ground is more likely to achieve progress. This is an issue that Ireland and the EU takes extremely seriously and the Government will continue to monitor and assess the situation and engage with Chinese authorities bilaterally and in multilateral fora to address our concerns.

Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 124.