The week before the Christmas break, I submitted a number of Written Parliamentary Questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I was pleased yesterday to receive a response on the issues I raised, and you can read them in full below.
I asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, what recent assessment has been made of the human rights situation effecting Uyghur Muslims in China, what effect the Indian Governments changes to its constitution is expected to have on minority groups in India, and what steps the Government is taking to assist persecuted Christians around the world by implementing the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary For The Support for Persecuted Christians, which you can read here.
On Kashmir, the Government replied:
We are following the situation in Kashmir closely. Events in Kashmir can have regional and international implications and we urge calm and caution from all. We encourage the Government of India to ensure that the humanitarian needs of the people of India-administered Kashmir are being met. It is important that individual rights are fully respected and that there is constructive dialogue with affected communities. We have raised our concerns, including on the continued use of detentions and restrictions on communications, with the Government of India,? most recently during Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon’s meeting with Indian MEA Minister Muraleedharan on 19 December.
On the situation in China, the Government said:
We have particularly serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang including the extra-judicial detention of over a million Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in “political re-education camps”, systematic restrictions on Uyghur culture and the practice of Islam, and extensive and invasive surveillance targeting minorities. Reports indicating that forced labour is being used and children are being forcibly separated from their parents add to the growing body of evidence about the disturbing situation that Uyghurs and other minorities are facing in Xinjiang.
On the proposed changes to the Indian Constitution, the Government answered:
The British Government and the British High Commission in New Delhi are following the human rights situation across India and raise issues with Indian officials where appropriate.
On assisting persecuted Christians, the Government replied:
The British Government is committed to implementing the recommendations from the Bishop of Truro’s Review. The recommendations have been divided into short, medium and longer term priorities and we have already implemented a good number of them. This includes recently appointing a Director General level champion for Freedom of Religion or Belief and marking Red Wednesday in support of persecuted Christians and members of other minority groups. Some of the recommendations will take longer to implement and many will require an ongoing effort to embed into the working practice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Departments.