Uighur community members are urging the government of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese not to sideline human rights in Canberra’s diplomatic reset with China and are disappointed to have failed to secure a meeting with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢).
The Germany-based president of the World Uyghur Congress, Dolkun Isa, is among a delegation that has visited Canberra this week for meetings with about 30 politicians from all sides of politics, including Australian Representative Peter Dutton, the opposition leader.
The delegation has urged Australia to join the US and several European countries in declaring that genocide is occurring in China’s Xinjiang region and to use new sanction laws against Chinese officials.
The group raised fears that speaking up against the persecution of minorities in China might be sidelined as part of efforts to restore trade ties after last week’s breakthrough meeting between Albanese and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
Australian Uyghur Tangritagh Women’s Association president Ramila Chanisheff said new targeted sanctions laws were “rightly” being used against Russian officials, but she wanted to know why they were not also applied to Chinese officials.
“We unfortunately couldn’t get an audience with the foreign minister,” the Adelaide-based campaigner said.
Kyinzom Dhongdue, the strategic communications lead for Amnesty International Australia and a Tibetan refugee, said that human rights should be “a non-negotiable condition” of any improvement in the diplomatic relationship.
The group had first requested the meeting with Wong via her office about a month ago, Kyinzom Dhongdue said.
The members of the delegation include advocates who had traveled from overseas and survivors of detention camps who “would have really valued the opportunity” to brief Wong directly, she said.
“I think this was a missed opportunity for the minister to hear firsthand accounts of the survivors,” she said.
Wong’s spokesperson said the foreign minister had asked senior officials from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to meet the delegation on her behalf, along with a representative from her office.
The Chinese government denies all accusations of human rights abuses.
Michael Bloomberg last week apologized at a business forum hosted by the news agency he founded for remarks by former British prime minister Boris Johnson criticizing China as autocratic. The controversy highlights China’s influence in Asia and sensitivities about overt criticism of Beijing. Bloomberg, a former New York mayor who ran for president in 2020, apologized on Thursday at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore, a business gathering whose speakers included Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan (王岐山) and whose delegates included Chinese businesspeople. “Some may have been insulted or offended last night by parts of the speaker’s remarks referencing certain countries and
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