The European Parliament on Thursday called on EU countries to impose targeted sanctions and asset freezes on Chinese officials responsible for human rights violations toward the Uighurs.
The move comes a day after the Parliament awarded its human rights prize to jailed Uighur economist Ilham Tohti. The United Nations estimates that one million Uighurs — an ethnic minority mostly living in the northwest Chinese state of Xinjiang — are detained in internment camps.
A resolution adopted by EU lawmakers “calls on the Council to adopt targeted sanctions and assets freezes, should they be deemed appropriate and effective, against the Chinese officials responsible for devising and implementing the policy of mass detention of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.”
The text urges China “to close all camps and detention centers, and to immediately and unconditionally release those detained,” and calls for a ban of Chinese exports into the EU that have been produced as a result of forced labor in those camps.
Lawmakers also demanded that independent journalists and international observers be granted “unhindered access” to the camps.
Addressing the Parliament during a debate on Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he wanted to take the necessary steps to allow the EU to swiftly impose sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations.
However, to do so he will need the support of all EU countries, Borrell said, adding: “I will fight for it.”