Human rights in Xinjiang: Beijing castigates the “political” report of the UN
“A political tool” written by “henchmen” of the West: Beijing on Thursday strongly denounced the report published by the UN on violations of the rights of Muslims in the Chinese region of Xinjiang.
This text of nearly 50 pages “is completely illegal and invalid”, lambasted during a regular press conference Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“This report is a collection of disinformation and a political tool in the service of the strategy of the United States and the West, which aims to use Xinjiang to hinder (the development) of China,” he said. .
Despite pressure from Beijing, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released its long-awaited report on the situation in Xinjiang late Wednesday evening.
A mixture of interviews carried out by his services and first or second-hand information, he evokes the possibility of “crimes against humanity” in the region.
Xinjiang and the rest of China have long been plagued by bloody attacks that the government blames on Uyghur separatists and Islamists – the region’s main ethnic group.
In response, the authorities have launched a relentless campaign in the name of anti-terrorism for several years, with omnipresent military police, generalized identity checks and a vast network of surveillance cameras.
– “Conspiracy” –
Western studies accuse Beijing of having interned more than a million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups in “re-education camps”, even of imposing “forced labor” or “forced sterilizations”.
China denounces biased reports and speaks of “vocational training centers” intended to develop employment and eradicate extremism. She denies any “forced sterilization”, saying only to apply the national birth control policy.
The UN report does not corroborate the figure of one million people but claims that “a significant proportion” of Uyghurs and members of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have been interned.
It describes a “large-scale arbitrary detention pattern” in the region “from at least 2017 to 2019” in high-security facilities.
“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups…may amount to international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the report said.
Unsurprisingly, Beijing condemned the terms used.
“The OHCHR created this report from scratch, relying on the political conspiracy of some anti-China forces overseas,” Wang Wenbin said.
“This proves once again that the OHCHR has become the minion and accomplice of the United States and the West to punish (…) developing countries.”
– “Completely deflated” –
Without confirming them, the UN report also considers “credible” the accusations of torture, sexual violence and even rape in internment establishments in Xinjiang.
“It is not possible to draw broader conclusions as to whether there have been broader patterns of sexual and gender-based violence in these centers, however notes the UN.
The report, however, does not endorse Western accusations of “forced labor” but points to “elements of coercion” in Xinjiang’s employment promotion program.
The UN also does not use the word “genocide” to describe the situation in the region.
A term used by Washington, but also by the French National Assembly or the representations of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Canada.
“It shows that the lies fabricated by the United States and the West have completely deflated,” Chinese spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.
The Chilean Michelle Bachelet, whose last day was Wednesday at the head of the High Commissioner after a four-year term, kept her promise in extremis by having published the document shortly before midnight in Geneva.
– New investigation –
If it does not contain revelations, this report brings the seal of the UN to the accusations leveled for a long time against the Chinese authorities. Its publication had been the subject of intense pressure.
Human rights organizations and the United States, which has named China as its strategic rival, wanted to make it public. Conversely, Beijing strongly opposed it.
Some Uyghur organizations based abroad welcomed the report but others wished it condemned China more strongly.
“This is a game-changer for the Uyghur cause internationally,” said Omer Kanat, executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
“The UN has just officially recognized that horrific crimes are being committed.”
But Salih Hudayar, a Uyghur based in the United States where he is campaigning for Xinjiang independence, told AFP on Thursday that the report “unfortunately is not as strong as we had hoped”.
On the diplomatic front, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement on Thursday that the UN report “puts China to shame”.
She called for continued international pressure to “immediately end” the “appalling human rights abuses in Xinjiang”.
For its part, German diplomacy urged Beijing “to authorize a new independent investigation” on its territory.
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