Updated Feb 13, 2023, 8:04am EST

Anger mounts over expected European trip by Xinjiang governor


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The News

The governor of China’s Xinjiang region is expected to visit London and Brussels to meet European officials this month, prompting outrage from lawmakers and human rights advocates.

Erkin Tuniyaz is expected to arrive in London this week followed by a trip to Brussels, Politico reported.

Ethnic Uyghur demonstrators wave flags of Turkey and East Turkestan during a protest against China, near the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, Turkey February 5, 2023. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
A recent anti-China protest by ethnic Uyghurs waving flags of Turkey and East Turkestan in Istanbul. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
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Tuniyaz oversees Xinjiang, the northwestern region of China where it is alleged that at least one million Uyghur and other Turkic Muslims are subject to crimes against humanity and genocide. He is barred from travel to the U.S. because of sanctions against him, while Beijing continues to deny the allegations.

Some lawmakers in the U.K. have called for Attorney General Victoria Prentis to seek Tuniyaz’s immediate arrest and prosecution if he arrives in the country.

In a letter, the group of seven members of parliament wrote that ”in the absence of an international mechanism to hold [those responsible] to account, we must seize every opportunity to ensure accountability,” Nikkei reports.

Officials within the British government said that Tuniyaz had not been invited to visit London, but were informed by the Chinese embassy about the plan. The governor will meet with U.K. officials on the trip, but not ministers. The EU has confirmed that a delegation will visit Brussels.

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The View From the Uyghur community

”It is shocking and incomprehensible that the U.K. and EU would choose to meet with Erkin Tuniyaz, who has played a leading role in the genocide against the Uyghur and other Turkic people,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, in a statement provided to Nikkei.