UK Government Aided and Abetted Uighur Genocide?

CJ Werleman
3 min readApr 5, 2021
(pic via Reuters)

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Documents posted on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website demand answers to the following questions: what did the UK government know about China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Autonomous Zone and when did it know it?

According to the documents, UK based think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) coordinated the delivery of two-day workshop in 2016/17 between UK experts on counter-violent-extremism and Chinese government officials in Xinjiang Autonomous Zone, where millions of Uighur Muslims are being detained in a network of concentration camps, described by human rights organization and the United States government as “genocide.”

We also know the UK government has been promoting its controversial and discriminatory PREVENT UK counter-violent-extremism policy to foreign governments throughout the world, thanks to the reporting of Privacy International, which writes:

In 2016, the same year UK government officials met with their counterparts in Xinjiang to “demonstrate the effectiveness of UK best practices in CVE and identify ways this can be adopted in China” (i.e. demonstrate PREVENT UK), more than 300 academics signed an open letter calling on the UK government to end the program because the “science has not been subjected to proper scientific scrutiny or public critique,” writing:

Did China adopt PREVENT UK, which has unfairly discriminated against British Muslims, and then use it against millions of ethnic Uighur?

Well, last month, China defended its mass detainment program by arguing its “de-radicalization centers” are “not entirely different” to those found in the UK and other Western countries.

While the UK, France and US are guilty of detaining hundreds, possibly thousands, of men removed from conflict zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere, they have not detained an entire civilian population. Thus China’s effort downplay its persecution of the Uighur by comparing its concentration camps to “de-radicalization centers or correction centers” found in UK, France and US is patently absurd and laughable on its face.

Certainly, it’s reasonable to assume that UK government officials were unaware of the extent and intent on China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims at the time it delivered its two-day workshop in Xinjiang in 2016, given China did not adopt its mass detainment policy until well into the following year.

But given we now know from a trove of leaked Chinese government documents that Xi Jinping gave a series of speeches in Xinjiang in 2014 that called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy”…….

…the question thus becomes: what did UK intelligence agencies know and when did they know it?

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CJ Werleman

Columnist for Middle East Eye. Host of Channel The Rage. Activist against Islamophobia. Read more about CJ here: