Image Credit: Malcolm Byrne Social Media
Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne has accused the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of carrying out a genocide against the Uyghur people, of persecuting practitioners of Falun Gong, and of “crushing” press and legal freedoms in Hong Kong.
Senator Byrne was referring to the system of concentration camps which the CCP has set up in Xinjiang, and which it is believed over one million members of the Uyghur ethno-religious group have been forced into. The situation has been described as the largest forced incarceration of an ethno-religious minority since World War 2.
Over the past two years more and more details regarding conditions in the camps has become available, and a growing number of scholars, barristers, politicians, and media outlets have begun to argue that the situation constitutes an active and ongoing act of genocide.
Of particular concern has been material which appears to show that the CCP has been engaging in the mass sterilization of Uyghurs.
A 2021 study in the Journal of Genocide Research, ‘Why Scholars and Activists Increasingly Fear a Uyghur Genocide in Xinjiang,” reviewed research that “hundreds of thousands” of women from various ethic minorities have been subjected to non-consensual medical procedures such as forced sterilisations and abortions.
In February of this year the BBC released a report alleging that Uyghur women were being systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured during their times in the camps.
Magnus Fiskesjö, Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University, describes the actions of the CCP in Xinjiang as a “monstrous mass assault on human dignity.” He argues that what is happening in Xinjiang is “an intentional, well-planned, multipronged genocide.”
In October of 2020 Senators Ronan Mulan and Michael McDowell brought forward a motion calling on the government to condemn the actions of the CCP in Xinjiang. In response Deputy Colm Brophy, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that it was “disappointing that this issue is impacting negatively on the positive and growing relationship between Ireland and China,” and that Ireland must be careful to ensure we do not “in any way seek to undermine Chinese sovereignty.”
Clare TD Michael McNamara has previously said that the failure of Ireland to forcefully condemn the actions of the CCP in Xinjiang “lessens us as a people,” and that “by failing to do everything we can to condemn what is happening in Xinjiang we are condoning it.”
Referencing the Irish Times’ recent decision to print a full page advertisement from the CCP, Senator Byrne said that he hoped that The Irish Times would “give as much attention in its editorials as it has in its advertising to the Chinese Communist Party.” The Senator called for a debate “on China, our relationships with China and human rights abuses by the Communist Party.”