AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a non-binding motion saying the treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in China amounts to genocide, the first such move by a European country.
Activists and U.N. rights experts say at least one million Muslims are being detained in camps in the remote western region of Xinjiang. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of using torture, forced labour and sterilisations.
“A genocide on the Uighur minority is occurring in China,” the Dutch motion said, stopping short of directly saying that the Chinese government was responsible.
The Chinese Embassy in The Hague said on Thursday any suggestion of a genocide in Xinjiang was an “outright lie” and the Dutch parliament had “deliberately smeared China and grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs.”
The Dutch motion said that actions by the Chinese government such as “measures intended to prevent births” and “having punishment camps” fell under United Nations Resolution 260, generally known as the genocide convention.
Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the government did not want to use the term genocide, as the situation has not been declared as such by the United Nations or by an international court.
“The situation of the Uighurs is a cause of great concern”, Blok told reporters after the motion was passed, adding that the Netherlands hoped to work with other nations on the matter.
The author of the motion, lawmaker Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the centre-left D-66 Party, has separately proposed lobbying the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics away from Beijing.