(TibetanReview.net, Sep01’22) – China has committed “serious human rights violations” against Uyghur Muslims in its northwestern region of Xinjiang, which may amount to “crimes against humanity”, said a long-awaited report released Aug 31 by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“I said that I would publish it before my mandate ended and I have,” the AFP quoted Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as saying, after releasing the report minutes before she demitted office in Geneva at the end of her four-year term. She was earlier not sure whether she would be able to keep that promise as pressure mounted on her from those seeking its scheduled release and China which vehemently opposed it.
“The issues are serious – and I raised them with high-level national and regional authorities in the country,” the report quoted Bachelet as saying.
“Serious human rights violations have been committed in XUAR (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) in the context of the government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies,” said the 45-page report, titled as “OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China.”
Dismissing China’s false claims about the nature of its so-called “Vocational Education and Training Centres,” where at least a million mostly Uyghurs were held, the report said, “Allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.”
“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups, pursuant to law and policy, in context of restrictions and deprivation more generally of fundamental rights enjoyed individually and collectively, may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the report added.
“The human rights situation in XUAR also requires urgent attention by the government, the United Nations intergovernmental bodies and human rights system, as well as the international community more broadly,” it further said.
On China’s so-called fight against terrorism, the report said its “anti-terrorism law system” is “deeply problematic from the perspective of international human rights norms and standards” and “has in practice led to the large-scale arbitrary deprivation of liberty” of Uyghurs and other Muslim communities.
However, the report made no reference to genocide, which is one of the key allegations made by many of China’s critics, including the United States and lawmakers in other Western countries.
The report came four years after a committee of UN experts called attention in Aug 2018 to “credible reports” that more than 1 million Uyghur and other Muslim minority peoples were interned in extrajudicial camps in Xinjiang for “re-education” and indoctrination.
China was given advance access to the document to review and respond to it and the OHCHR also released its response in tandem with the report.
Following Bachelet’s Aug 31 announcement to release the report, Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the UN in New York, said Beijing had told her that it was “firmly opposed” to the rights assessment.
“The so-called Xinjiang issue is a completely fabricated lie out of political motivations and its purpose is definitely to undermine China’s stability and to obstruct China’s development,” Zhang has told reporters.
Zhang has claimed that China had not seen the report and was “completely opposed” to it.