Speeches

CONSTITUENCY STATEMENTS; China: Human Rights

July 24, 2019

Mr HAYES (FowlerChief Opposition Whip) (10:06): I again speak on the ongoing mass and systemic human rights violations against the Uygur people of the Xinjiang province in China. More than a million people are detained simply by virtue of their ethnicity and religion. There are continuing reports of widespread surveillance, restrictions on freedom of movement and other violations of the most basic human rights. Long-term discrimination against the Uygur people in China is an issue that we should all remain gravely concerned about.

Last year a constituent of mine approached my office regarding a number of her family members who had gone missing, believed to have been arbitrarily detained. Today many of them are still being held in so-called re-education camps. I pay tribute to Ms Zulfia Erk for having the fortitude to come forward and explain her story. While the case of Zulfia's family members is deeply depressing, it is certainly not uncommon amongst the Uygur community across Australia. Many Australian citizens and residents face the uncertainty of not knowing whether their relatives have been detained or worse, as they are no longer able to contact them in China.

Despite widespread condemnation by the international community, China has not shown any sign of slowing its crackdown against the Uygur Muslims. Australia has taken a strong position against the Chinese treatment of the Uygurs, recently joining with 21 other nations at the United Nations Human Rights Council to urge China to end its mass detention of the Uygur population. Yet this move was countered by a statement signed by 30 other nations defending China's Xinjiang policy. Clearly China has taken advantage of its political and economic might to deflect the international criticisms.

Today in parliament, Amnesty International will hold briefings on the ongoing violations of human rights and the deterioration of religious freedom for the Uygur population in China. They will be joined by Sadam Abudusalamu and Almas Nizamidin, who will share their personal stories with members of parliament. They have bravely made a public plea for our help to secure the freedom and security of their families. While we will continue to demonstrate our support for the Uygur community and monitor the crisis, Australia, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, must also continue to call on China to honour its international obligations and to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its people, including the freedom of religion for the Uygur people of Xinjiang province in China.

WE'LL PUT PEOPLE FIRST