5 May 2021

Parliament debates Uyghur human rights motion

5:10 pm on 5 May 2021

The wording of ACT's parliamentary motion was changed for a second time ahead of this afternoon's debate on China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims, which is now taking place.

Watch live coverage of the debate from Parliament here:

The party put forward the motion, which had originally labelled the treatment of the Uyghur Muslims as "genocide."

The motion, however, failed to get the support of all parties and its wording was changed at Parliament's business committee last night.

ACT's deputy leader Brooke van Velden said Labour wanted to soften the language and remove the word "genocide."

It was instead replaced with "possible severe human rights abuses".

On Wednesday afternoon, just over an hour before the debate was expected to start, the wording of the motion changed again. RNZ understands the word 'possible' was removed after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade stepped in.

This change brings the wording of the motion in line with previous statements the government has made about China's treatment of Uyghur muslims.

In March it released a joint statement with Australia that expressed both countries' "grave concerns about the growing number of credible reports of severe human rights abuses against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang."

"There is clear evidence of severe human rights abuses that include restrictions on freedom of religion, mass surveillance, large-scale extra-judicial detentions, as well as forced labour and forced birth control, including sterilisation," the statement said.

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ACT's deputy leader Brooke van Velden Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone