The legal team acting for Rahima Mahmut, a human rights activist and head of the World Uyghur Congress’s London Office and Enver Tohti Bughda, who is also an activist and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, argue that human rights to date have been ignored in favour of the company's technological capabilities, and potential security threats. Lawyers, Michael Polak and Dr Aris Georgopoulos, assert for their clients, that the Government, in its ambition to rollout gigabit capable broadband and 5G coverage is legally obliged under its own and international law, to avoid companies where there is evidence of both slavery within their supply chain and complicity in crimes against humanity.
Allegations with respect to Huawei have been flagged up by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank whose recent report entitled ‘Uyghurs for Sale: ‘Re-education’, Forced Labour and Surveillance Beyond Xinjiang’ proves that tens of thousands of Uyghurs who have now "graduated" from so-called "re-education camps" are being herded into factories across China, many of which are part of Huawei's supply chain.
"There are significant allegations that the Chinese authorities are committing crimes against humanity including torture, enslavement, forcible transfer of population, imprisonment and other sever deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, enforced marriage and pregnancy, persecution based on religion, race, and ethnicity, and the enforced disappearance of persons. The expert evidence alleges that Huawei’s role is integral to the commission of these breaches of jus cogens rules of international law," claims Michael Polak, whose organization Lawyers for Uyghur Rights aims to highlight and campaign against the injustices meted out to Uyghurs in China.
Having earlier this year voted to allow Huawei a limited role in the UK's 5G network, May 24th heralded the announcement that this decision would be reviewed. But with still no sign that human rights would be on the table, Michael Polak's legal team submission to the UK government is threatening legal action if this is not taken seriously. Quoting a further ASPI report, Mapping China’s Technology Giants which alleges that Huawei is ‘deeply implicated in the ongoing surveillance, repression and persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minority communities in Xinjiang.’ (page 16),
Mr Polak said that he submitted the evidence also on behalf of all Uyghur and other Turkic people who are facing systematic oppression in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Quoting the UK government's stated commitment to eradicating slavery from supply chains (press release published 27 March 2019 (https://gov.uk/government/news/government-leads-the-way-in-tackling-modern-slavery-in-public-procurement ) he quoted Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden, who stressed the government's determination to tackle modern day slavery particularly within its own supply chains. "This is a moral imperative," he said. "We must remember that people are at the heart of this work and just one victim is one too many." He appealed to the UK Government not to allow its flagship 5G network to be "tainted by gross violations of human rights in regard to the supply chains of the providers of such infrastructure." "We ask that this Commission properly consider this evidence from reliable experts before coming to its conclusions on the terms of reference," he urged. Media Requests
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Lawyer for Uyghur Rights, www.lawyersforuyghurrights.com is a group made up of barristers, solicitors, paralegals, academics, and students who are working together to develop strategies to combat the mass oppression and atrocities being carried of the Uyghur people and other Turkic Muslim minorities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkestan) The organisation is chaired by Michael Polak.
Michael Polak is a barrister practising in both international and domestic human rights law as well as criminal law defence. He practises from Church Court Chambers in London and is a Director of Justice Abroad (www.justiceabroad.co.uk). He is chair of Lawyer for Uyghur Rights and works closely with the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur community.
Dr. Aris Georgopoulos is Assistant Professor in European and Public Law at the School of Law, University of Nottingham and Head of the Research Unit for Stra¬tegic and Defence Procurement of the Public Procure¬ment Research Group (PPRG). He has been a Global Governance Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) of the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, and a Grotius Fel¬low at the Law School of the University of Michigan and has acted as expert advisor to national authorities, international organisations and institutions (such as the OECD, the World Bank, the European Central Bank, The European Court of Auditors and USAID)