Labour Senators urge support for motion on Uyghur Muslims in China

Ivana Bacik TD
08 October 2020

Labour Senators will today support a motion, proposed by Independent Senators Rónán Mullen and Michael McDowell, which calls on the Government to act on human rights abuses committed against Uyghur Muslims in China.

Speaking on the motion, Labour Seanad group leader, Senator Ivana Bacik said:

“I thank the Independent Group in the Seanad for bringing this motion today. The Labour Party will enthusiastically support it and will join with Senators Mullen and McDowell in asking other parties to do so too. This is not a party-political issue, rather one concerning the protection of fundamental human rights.

“The asks that we are making of the Government as contained in this motion are not unrealistic. The motion simply calls on the Irish Government to condemn the persecution of Uyghur Muslims in China; to call on the Chinese Government to bring an end to human rights abuses and to allow UN human rights monitors to access detention centres in the Xinjiang area of China; and to use its trade and diplomatic channels to insist on the observance of human rights for all people in China.

“Ireland’s new position on the UN Security Council makes it extremely well placed to raise this important issue. There is a moral imperative to defend the rights of Uyghur Muslims. Freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from persecution and the right to a fair trial are all basic human rights that must be protected. The internment of Uyghurs in detention camps has been taking place since 2017 and there are well documented human rights abuses that predate that year too. We legislators must act now to express our solidarity with the Uyghur people.

“Ireland has a proud history of supporting human rights around the world, such as Irish people’s solidarity with those living in Palestine and the strong support for Anti-Apartheid activists in South Africa in the 1980s. The Labour Party stood with those movements then and will stand with Uyghur Muslims in China now. The motion to be debated today is in the spirit of Ireland’s tradition of internationalism, compassion and humanitarianism and I hope that the Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs will be receptive to its asks.”


Motion Text:

“That Seanad Éireann:

acknowledges that:

  • Ireland has a proud history of supporting the protection of human rights across the world, particularly in developing countries;
  • the free profession and practice of religion is a cornerstone of Irish society and is enshrined in our Constitution;
  • Ireland has maintained good diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China since 1979;
  • in 2019, Ireland imported some €5 billion worth of goods from China, and exported €8 billion to China;
  • Ireland was elected to the United Nations Security Council in June 2020;


notes with concern:

  • the continuing reports of egregious human rights violations perpetrated by authorities of the People’s Republic of China against members of the Uyghur Muslim population and against other minority groups in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which include:
  • the mass arrest and internment of at least one million people on arbitrary grounds without due process;
  • physical and psychological abuse of those detained, including torture and forced labour;
  • the forced separation of children from their families;
  • forced re-education of children to compel them to abandon their language and culture;
  • sustained surveillance and intimidation against the wider population;
  • coercion of women to undergo abortions, sterilisations, and the insertion of intrauterine devices under threat of arrest and internment, as a means of controlling the population of the minority groups;
  • sustained attacks upon the culture, language and religion of minority groups;


and calls on the Government to:

  • condemn these practices unreservedly;
  • call on the People’s Republic of China to bring to an immediate end to these practices and to allow United Nations human rights monitors to access detention centres in the region; and
  • use all available trade and diplomatic channels, including the United Nations Security Council, to insist on the observance of basic human rights protections for the Uyghur Muslim population and for all citizens of the People’s Republic of China.”

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