China, for its part, denies reports that at least 1 million Muslims are being held against their will in a remote region of country where they are subjected to torture, forced labor and sterilization.
MANHATTAN (CN) — Dutch lawmakers became the first in Europe on Thursday to condemn what they called the genocide of the Uyghur people, China’s Muslim minority, in a remote region of the country.
Though the nonbinding resolution from the parliament does not go so far as to say that China is responsible, it says that United Nations Resolution 260, generally known as the genocide convention, governs actions by the Chinese government such as “measures intended to prevent births” and “having punishment camps.”
Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party voted against the measure, which prompted Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok to note that the government is taking care not to use the word “genocide” as neither the United Nations nor an international court has made such a declaration.
“The situation of the Uyghurs is a cause of great concern,” Blok told reporters Thursday.
A statement from Dutch government is promised for later Thursday, though the motion does not recommend any specific action by the Cabinet.
Sjoerd Wiemer Sjoerdsma, a member of the Dutch parliament, tweeted an image of Uyghurs demonstrating outside during Thursday’s vote.
“Recognizing the atrocities that are taking place against the Uyghurs in China for what they are, namely genocide, prevents the world from looking the other way and forces us into action,” Sjoerdsma, a member of the center-left D-66 Party, told Reuters on Thursday.
China meanwhile denounced Canada earlier this week for having passed a similar resolution that labeled its treatment of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region as a genocide.
“Some Canadian politicians have never been to Xinjiang, or never even been to China before, but they have engaged in political manipulation on Xinjiang-related issues, under the pretext of human rights, disseminating false information and lies,” an Embassy spokesman said.
Denying that there is a genocide in Xinjiang, the spokesman said the region has not seen a terrorist incidents over four years because it is ruled in such a way as “to counter violence and terrorism and for deradicalization.”
Last month, Twitter locked the account of the Chinese U.S. Embassy in Washington after a tweet stated that Uyghur women in Xinjiang have been emancipated and are no longer “baby making machines.”
The embassy must delete the Jan. 7 tweet for Twitter to unlock it. There have been no tweets from the embassy’s account since Jan. 8.
Against this backdrop, the International Olympic Committee is facing calls to strip China of hosting duties for the 2022 winter games.
With some groups calling on countries to boycott Beijing-held Olympics, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday that there “hasn’t been a final decision made on that.”
“Of course we would look for guidance from the U.S. Olympic Committee,” she added.
It was on President Donald Trump’s last day in office that the U.S. State Department declared that the Chinese government is committing genocide against its minority Uyghur population.
Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador and Trump ally, is among those who have called for an American boycott of the 2022 Olympics in China.
Another group making such calls is the East Turkistan Government in Exile, which uses the Uyghur-preferred name for Xinjiang.
The Dutch Uyghur Human Rights Foundation, a nongovernmental organization founded by five Netherlands-based Uyghur activists, posted a testimonial from one Xinjiang-born Uyghur who has sought asylum in the Netherlands.
Yusuf Ahad says he fears for the safety of his youngest of three children, a boy unable to leave China because he lacks a passport or any recognition of his birth, which fell out of step with national birth-control policies.