Sonny Bill Williams speaks out on China’s ‘disgusting’ treatment of Uighur Muslims

Rugby star Sonny Bill Williams has spoken publicly for the first time about China’s treatment of its minority Uighur Muslim community, telling Sky News he is “only embarrassed I don’t speak up enough”.

The New Zealander has recently become the highest paid rugby star in history in either code after signing for transatlantic rugby league side Toronto Wolfpack in a deal believed to be worth £5m over two years.

“I’m a long time vocal supporter of our brothers and sisters in China that are in detention camps over there and facing disgusting injustices,” said Williams, who became a Muslim 10 years ago.

In December, he posted an image on social media of a hand with the Chinese flag gripping on to a bloody arm representing East Turkmenistan, the former name of China’s Xinjiang province.

Williams told Sky News he had been a longtime and vocal supporter “of our brothers and sisters in China”.

“They are in the detention camps over there and facing disgusting injustices,” he continued.

“For myself, I just speak my truth. Sometimes I get it wrong but in this instance I definitely know I’m not.”

Chinese representatives in New Zealand even fired back at Williams last year after his tweet.

“We’re firmly opposed to any attempts to sabotage China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in New Zealand told Newshub.

“Certain people seemed to be blindfolded by some fake news and clouded by falsehoods. We hope they could view China’s counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts in an objective way.”