Alhamdulillah, one step in the right direction.
While a small and non-binding step (the government can still decide what they want to do with the declaration, and Prime Minister Johnson still has refrained from saying ‘genocide’), it’s still significant that the UK’s House of Commons has proclaimed what is happening to the Uyghurs in China as what it is—a genocide.
“The motion approved by MPs does not compel the UK to take action, but is a sign of growing discontent towards the Chinese government in Parliament.”
In sha Allah, these steps add up to some type of policy change and pressure on China.
In an analysis of the difference between the approaches of the Trump and Biden administrations toward the Uyghurs, the New York Times made a key point earlier this year in regards to the US’s stance on them:
“One test will be whether the Biden administration will try to persuade American allies to support efforts to confront Beijing over its oppression in Xinjiang in a way the Trump administration did not.”
In general though, while the US has become increasingly frustrated over China’s position on a number of issues—Uyghurs, Taiwan, their position on the South China Sea—the Biden administration is still taking its time to develop firm positions.
It’s important to recall that public support of such causes matter. As we see with the culture wars and in democracies like the US, the stronger public demands are, the more likely people in power will take notice and see that they need to exploit them for their benefit.
Perhaps there are some in politics who do take up causes because they genuinely believe in them, but in any case, in terms of the Uyghurs, actions from Muslims should be pretty clear. In ways that you can, talk about the genocide, share what’s going on with others on social media, and as always, make dua for the Uyghurs.
There’s also a change taking place from some of the large fashion brands (e.g., Nike, Burberry) that have relied on cotton from the Xinjiang region. They are now choosing to try to source cotton from elsewhere, having faced increasing public pressure on turning a blind eye on China’s crimes.
Boycott Companies Benefitting From Uyghur Labor
For anyone interested, please find a list of brands who have in some ways benefited from Uyghur labor in this report, from February 2020 (for a quick list, look under “Executive Summary”). This report is now over a year old, so taking into account the new stances from some brands, it would be wise to boycott the brands that you support.
Here is the list they provide (you should check for updates from the link above as these companies may change their stance in months to come):
In all, ASPI’s research has identified 82 foreign and Chinese companies potentially directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019:
Abercrombie & Fitch
GAC Group (automobiles)
Hart Schaffner Marx
Jack & Jones
Japan Display Inc.
Polo Ralph Lauren
How disheartening and shameful, though perhaps not surprising, to see the steps taken by Chinese influencers to support their government’s genocide by speaking out against companies that have decided not to use cotton from Xinjiang for the time being. This kind of propaganda for the government is powerful, and the Chinese market is a big money maker. There’s clearly more pushing to do.