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Majority at UN rights body succumbs to China’s pressure to defeat motion on Xinjiang

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(TibetanReview.net, Oct07’22) – China on Oct 6 ensured that the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva did not take up a motion to discuss its human rights record in Xinjiang. An Aug 31 report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that China may be guilty of committing crimes against human in the territory and therefore warranted further investigation, giving rise to the proposed motion.

However, China rallied support from mostly Asian and African members of the Council to defeat the motion which was presented by a group consisting of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA, and co-sponsored by a range of states, including Turkey.

The defeat of the motion (19 against, 17 for, 11 abstentions), which was only the second time in the council’s 16-year history for such a motion, is seen by observers as a setback to accountability efforts, the West’s moral authority on human rights and the credibility of the UN itself, reported Reuters Oct 7. India was among the countries that abstained from voting on the motion.

Lobbying on the sidelines was reported to be intense in recent weeks, with China hosting a photo exhibition entitled “Xinjiang is a Wonderful Land” where pictures of Xinjiang festivals and landscapes and Han and Uyghur schoolgirls helping each other with their studies. Outside the UN headquarters, Uyghurs held a protest and posted photos of people they said China was detaining.

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The proposal was defeated despite the West having toned down the language to seek just a debate, and not a monitoring of the Xinjiang situation by a team of investigators, in the hope of garnering more support from member-states, Reuters said in an Oct 6 report.

The AP Oct 6 cited Michele Taylor, the US ambassador, as saying the request for the debate was aimed simply to “provide neutral forum for discussion” that would give China a chance to put its views on record and hear the views of others.

“This is a disaster. This is really disappointing,” Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, whose mother died in a camp and whose two brothers are missing, has said.

He was particularly disappointed by the action of Muslim countries such as Qatar, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan, which all rejected the motion, the report noted.

Pakistan, in particular, citied the risk of alienating China, the report said.

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Many of the Asian and African countries at the council have problematic human rights records of their own and China has sought to cash in on it. Its ambassador was reported to have warned shortly before the vote that the motion would create a “dangerous shortcut” for examining other countries’ human rights records.

“Today China is targeted. Tomorrow any other developing country will be targeted,” Chen Xu has said.

Besides, the event was stated to have raised political dilemmas for many developing countries in the 47-member council who were loath to publicly defy China for fear of jeopardizing its investment.

Rights groups accuse Beijing of waging a genocidal campaign of abuses against Uyghurs, a mainly Muslim ethnic minority that numbers around 10 million in the Xinjiang region, including by means of mass use of forced labour in internment camps. The United States and others have has accused China of genocide.


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