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UK criticises China, sanctions Russians and Iranians over rights

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2022-12-09T13:03:23Z

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London, Britain, November 22, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Britain said the human rights situation in China worsened last year and announced sanctions on Friday against 30 people worldwide, including officials from Russia, Iran and Myanmar it deems responsible for human rights abuses or corruption.

The move came a day after France announced plans for new European Union sanctions against Iran over human rights abuses in its security crackdown on popular unrest there as well as its supply of drones to Russia before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The British government said its sanctions were coordinated with international partners to mark International Anti-Corruption Day and Global Human Rights Day. They encompassed individuals involved in activities including the torture of prisoners and the mobilisation of troops to rape civilians.

“Today our sanctions go further to expose those behind the heinous violations of our most fundamental rights,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

Those sanctioned include Russian Colonel Ramil Rakhmatulovich Ibatullin for his role as the commander of the 90th Tank Division, which has been involved in fighting since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

The government said there have been multiple allegations made against serving members of the 90th Tank Division, including the conviction in Ukraine of a senior lieutenant on sexual abuse charges during the conflict.

Russia, which has said it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine to eliminate threats to its security, has denied committing war crimes or targeting civilians.

Britain also sanctioned 10 Iranian officials connected to Iran’s prison systems. This included six people linked to the Revolutionary Courts that have been responsible for prosecuting protesters with sentences including the death penalty.

Nationwide protests that erupted after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 have posed one of the biggest challenges to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979.

The British government sanctioned Ali Cheharmahali and Gholamreza Ziyayi, former directors of Evin prison in Tehran, which it said was a facility notorious for the mistreatment of both Iranian and foreign detainees.

The foreign office said the sanctions against 11 countries across seven sanctions regimes were the most that Britain has ever imposed in one package.

Britain also sanctioned figures involved in Myanmar’s military, which it said were involved in committing massacres, torture and rape.

Among those sanctioned by Britain were Myanmar’s Office of the Chief of Military and Security Affairs, which it said had been involved in torture since last year’s military coup, including rape and sexual violence.

Russia, Myanmar, and Iran have previously dismissed accusations of atrocities as foreign interference based on falsehoods. Their embassies in London did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Separately, Britain said in its annual review of global human rights and democracy that the human rights situation in China deteriorated last year with Uyghur Muslims facing what the foreign minister called “horrific persecution”.

The government in China continued to pursue policies including the extra-judicial detention of Uyghur Muslims in political re-education camps in the Xinjiang region’s expanding prison network, it said.

China is using advanced technologies, including mass surveillance and “predictive policing” algorithms, in ways which violated human rights in the region, the report said. Beijing vigorously denies any abuses.


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