More nations criticise China at UN for repression of Uighurs

More than 40 primarily Western nations have criticised China on the United Nations over the reported torture and repression of the principally Muslim Uighurs and different spiritual and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, preserving a highlight on a area the place overseas governments and researchers say a million individuals or extra have been confined in camps.

The 43 nations that signed the assertion criticising China on Thursday expressed specific concern at “credible-based reports” of the existence of “re-education camps” in Xinjiang.

It was learn by France’s UN Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere at a gathering of the General Assembly’s Human Rights Committee.

“We call on China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and her office,” the nations stated.

It was the third time in three years that the US and primarily European nations used the Human Rights Committee assembly to criticise China over its insurance policies on the Uighurs.

Earlier this week, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think-tank, launched a brand new report detailing Xinjiang’s “architecture of repression” that it says has been developed to oppress the Uighurs.

The report stated not less than 1,869,310 Uighurs and different residents in Xinjiang have been singled out after they have been found to be utilizing Zapya, a cell messaging software.

In response, Cuba instantly issued a rival assertion on behalf of 62 different nations saying that Xinjiang is China’s inner affair. The rival assertion dismissed all allegations of abuse there as primarily based on “political motivation” and “disinformation.”

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun spoke quickly after, condemning “the groundless accusations” and “lies”, and accusing the United States and some different unnamed signatories of the assertion of “using human rights as a pretext for political manoeuvring to provoke confrontation.”

He strongly defended the event of Xinjiang, saying the lives of its individuals have been getting higher by the day and “your plot to obstruct China’s development is doomed to failure.”

Rival statements

The rival statements underline the long-running stress between China and the world’s liberal democracies over human rights.

Those tensions have escalated particularly with the US, and embrace different points together with the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan, commerce, and Beijing’s expansive declare to the South China Sea.

In 2019, 23 nations signed on to an announcement learn by the United Kingdom.

In 2020, 39 nations signed an announcement learn by Germany and this 12 months the assertion had 4 extra signatories.

Switzerland, nonetheless, dropped its signature from the assertion as a result of, diplomatic sources stated, it not too long ago hosted a high-level assembly between the US and China and determined to prioritise its position as facilitator between these two powers relatively than signing the annual declaration calling for respect for human rights in Xinjiang.

The newest UN assertion raised alarm over the ‘extreme restrictions on freedom of faith or perception and the freedoms of motion, association and expression in addition to on Uighur tradition in Xinjian [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Meanwhile, Cuba, which had solely 45 signatories final 12 months, bought 17 further nations to help China this 12 months.

“We have seen an increasing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations,” the 43 nations stated of their assertion, “including reports documenting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilisation, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children.”

“There are severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and the freedoms of movement, association and expression as well as on Uighur culture,” they stated.

“Widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uighurs and members of other minorities,” the assertion added, because it urged UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, and different UN officers to research.

China’s Zhang stated Bachelet has “a standing invitation” to go to and “consultations are still going on.”

He harassed that the go to needs to be “a friendly one” and mustn’t begin with “presumed guilt.”

“That’s not acceptable to China,” Zhang stated.

Bachelet first requested Beijing in December 2018 for permission to hold out a fact-finding mission in Xinjiang.

The UN rights chief normally solely undertakes nationwide visits offered the host authorities affords ensures on sure circumstances, together with unfettered entry to key websites and the best to talk with activists.