Press release: 1 July 2020
The UK Government's decision to refuse to take into account evidence that Huawei is ‘deeply implicated in the ongoing surveillance, repression and persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minority communities in Xinjiang’ and of slavery and forced labour in their supply chain, leaves human rights lawyers with no alternative but to appeal to the UN.
Lawyers for Uyghur Rights, (LfUR) a campaigning group championing the cause of Uyghurs in Xinjiang Autonomous Uyghur Region, has submitted a Communication with evidence to the UN Working Group on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises asking them to step in to investigate its concerns about Huawei, following confirmation by the UK Government that human rights considerations will not be taken into account during the current rethink over its collaboration with Huawei.
Representing two UK Uyghur activists, Rahima Mahmut, head of the World Uyghur Congress’s London Office and Enver Tohti Bughda, a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, LfUR was hoping with its first submission to the Government in April 2020, for human rights to be on the table on the basis of mounting evidence against Huawei's. But the rebuttal to its latest submission in a letter received on June 22nd 2020 has prompted this call to the UN body to take the matter further.
"There are significant allegations that the Chinese authorities are committing crimes against humanity against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and recent evidence shows that the authorities may be responsible for genocide’ claims LfUR director Michael Polak, who lists a catalogue of persecutions meted out on the Uyghur people, including torture, enslavement, forcible transfer of population, imprisonment and other severe deprivations of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law. Forced marriage and pregnancy, persecution based on religion, race, and ethnicity, and enforced disappearances are also some of the many well documented abuses.
"The expert evidence alleges that Huawei’s role in systematically facilitating the oppression of Uyghurs and subjecting them to slavery and forced labour in its supply chain, is integral to the commission of these breaches of jus cogens rules of international law," claims Michael Polak. He quotes renowned scholar and chronicler of the Uyghur plight, Dr. Adrian Zenz, whose research has led him to the conclusion that "Huawei is directly implicated in Beijing's police state and related human rights violations in Xinjiang."
"These allegations alone should disqualify the UK from doing business with the company on its soil, under mutually agreed international law," he claims, accusing the UK of breaching its obligations under the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to which they have pledged to adhere, as well as the slavery conventions, by refusing to consider Huawei's facilitation of crimes against humanity and slavery in their supply chain.
"Once the company's involvement in slavery and forced labour is established, its involvement in any kind of business on UK soil would be a fragrant violation of the United Kingdom’s international obligations. It is shocking that the Government has refused to take this evidence into consideration before making their decision " he says
In making the submission to the UN group, LfUR is not only representing the two Uyghur clients cited, but the entire Uyghur nation and the diaspora who are all victims of Huawei, severed from their homeland and families by virtue of the company’s collaboration with local authorities on the ground in China.
LfUR Communication urgently calls on the UN Working Group to examine both Huawei's and the United Kingdom’s adherence to the Guidance Principles on Business and Human Rights and other principles of international law when delivering their decision.
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Notes to Editors
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)