New Zealand says there is 'clear evidence' of severe human rights abuses against Uyghurs in China

New Zealand is teaming up with Australia to express "grave concerns" over "credible" reports of severe human rights abuses in the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China.  

Nanaia Mahuta. Source: Getty

In a joint statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and her Australian counterpart Marise Payne said there was "clear evidence of severe human rights abuses". 

That included restrictions on freedom of religion, mass surveillance, large-scale extra-judicial detentions, as well as forced labour and forced birth control and sterilisation.

It comes after the EU, UK, US and Canada launched coordinated sanctions against Xinjiang.

Mahuta told media today New Zealand could not follow as it does not have a domestic sanctions regime. 

What we’re hearing is absolutely concerning - Nanaia Mahuta

"We’ve also joined their call for an independent observer to go to Xinjiang to gather information and give good visibility to know exactly what is happening over there.

"What we’re hearing is absolutely concerning. We will use diplomacy and our ability to connect with the international community to express concern."

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She said if UN sanction particular actions against China, that would be a "strong platform we’re able to support".