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This just in from AAP:

Australia must stand up to China’s bullying and call out the superpower’s widespread use of forced Uyghur labour, a parliamentary inquiry has been told.

Every Uyghur in Australia has suffered the anguish of having relatives imprisoned or go missing over the past five years, Australian Uyghur community representatives told the hearing on Tuesday.

Uyghur Association of Victoria president Alim Osman said:

Genocide is unquestionable and is happening as we speak.

The foreign affairs, defence and trade committee is considering an import ban on goods produced using Uyghur forced labour, under proposed laws put forward by independent senator Rex Patrick.

Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association president Ramila Chanisheff said people were afraid of speaking up about relatives being forcibly coerced, separated from their children and sent to mass labour camps.

She said China was bullying countries like Australia not to speak up and slapping them with harsh tariffs.

Committee chair Eric Abetz slammed Australian National University academic Jane Golley’s plans to “debunk” reports of 1 million Uyghur Muslims working in concentration camps in Xinjiang province.

Prof Golley has played down reports about Xinjiang and last week spoke about a paper she received “anonymously” that suggested Uyghur female sterilisation should be regarded as family planning.

She heads the ANU’s taxpayer-funded Australian Centre on China in the World.

Senator Eric Abetz is chairing the committee. Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

“Golly gosh,” senator Abetz said, calling out her naivety in the face of “overwhelming evidence”.

He said:

It now sheds a light onto other criticisms of other people who have sought to highlight human rights abuses in China.

Dr Darren Byler, a researcher at the University of Colorado, said Prof Golley’s advocacy was an example of the “seeding of doubt or disinformation” by China.

He gave evidence of Uyghurs being placed on a “trustworthy” list if they used “long-term birth control”.

East Turkistan Australian Association president and immigration lawyer Nurmuhammad Majid has had two sisters imprisoned for more than 10 years, two brothers taken to an unknown location, and 58 people in his extended family lost since 2016.

He said:

Australia has not made any significant contribution to stop the atrocities against Uyghur people. Australia is now being the victim of China’s economic expansion policy.

Majid said Australian Uyghurs had also been wrongly listed as terrorists by China for sending money to family members and 14 people – including children – have been prevented from returning to families here despite having visas.

Analyst Vicky Xu said the Chinese government regards any investigation of labour conditions of Uyghur workers as “crossing a red line”.

She co-authored the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s report last year that found more than 80,000 people were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019.

In conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs and other minorities were working in factories linked to almost 100 global brands in the technology, clothing and vehicle sectors.

Majid said China had established a massive cotton production facilities where Uyghurs worked 18-hour days for less than 10c an hour.

Several witnesses told the committee Australian slave labour laws fell short of what was required.


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