UK Barrister wants to prosecute Xinjiang governor visiting UK

Law Soc Ireland Journal reports

The British Attorney General has been asked for permission by a lawyer to prosecute a Xinjiang governor expected to arrive in that country.

The lawyer is representing a Kazakh man who has alleged severe human-rights violations inflicted by the Chinese state.

Opponents of the Chinese treatment of Uyghur people and other minorities said it was “incomprehensible” that the politician, who has already been sanctioned by the US, is planning to visit Britain.

MPs believe that Tuniyaz played a central role in the persecution of Uyghurs.

He also plans to visit other European countries, according to an email from the British Foreign Office.

The prosecution request was made by barrister Michael Polak on behalf of Erbakit Otarbay, a Kazakh camp survivor now living in Britain.

“Because the client is in the United Kingdom, and an alleged victim of torture, he’s entitled to bring a case against Mr Tuniyaz,” said Polak.

“Of course, Mr Tuniyaz is entitled to a fair trial … and he can reject or fight the allegations.”

Passport confiscated

In May 2017, Ortabay said that his passport was confiscated by Chinese authorities on his way back to visit his father in China. He emigrated to Kazakhstan with his family in 2014.

In July 2017 he was arrested, interrogated, detained, and accused of watching illegal videos about Islam on his phone. Ortabay alleges that he was held in prison and “training” camps, and subjected to forced labour in a clothing factory, until his release in 2018.

During his time in camps and prisons, Ortabay said that he was given very little food and at times had to drink urinal water to survive.

“I have scars on my head, face and hands. They often beat me with a stick or electric baton,” said Ortabay.

Not invited

In the House of Commons, Foreign Office minister Leo Docherty said that the Chinese governor had not been invited by the British government or the Foreign Office and if he did arrive it would be on a diplomatic passport.

Docherty added that there was no confirmation Tuniyaz would travel.

“If he does visit, I assure this House that under no circumstances will he be dignified with a ministerial meeting,” he told the House of Commons (9 February).

A meeting would only  take place to make absolutely clear Britain’s abhorrence of the treatment of the Uyghur people and that it will not relent from exposing the horrors to which they are subject, he said.