UN Report on Xinjiang Highlights Crimes Against Humanity, Arbitrary Detention of Uyghurs
The UN evokes possible “crimes against humanity”, reports “credible evidence” of torture and sexual violence against the Uyghur minority and calls on the international community to act, in its long-awaited report on the Chinese region of Xinjiang released on Wednesday.
“The extent of the arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups … may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the report says. less than fifty pages in its conclusions.
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Michelle Bachelet, for whom it was the last day at the head of the High Commissioner after a four-year mandate, thus kept her promise in extremis by publishing the document shortly before midnight in Geneva.
The international community called upon to act urgently
If it does not seem to contain any revelations compared to what was already known about the situation in Xinjiang, this document brings the seal of the UN to the accusations leveled for a long time against the Chinese authorities. A quick search in the text does not bring up the word genocide. An accusation, on the other hand, brought against Beijing by the American government but also the French National Assembly or the representations of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Canada.
Its publication had been the subject of intense pressure from those who wanted to make it public – notably from the United States and major human rights NGOs – and, conversely, to prevent it from seeing the light of day. from Beijing.
In this document, the UN called on the international community to act urgently in the face of accusations of torture and sexual violence in Xinjiang that the organization considers “credible”. “Allegations of recurring practices of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and poor prison conditions, are credible, as are individual allegations of sexual and gender-based violence,” writes the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the report.
NGOs expect strong actions
This report “lays bare, the massive violations of fundamental rights by China”, declared Sophie Richardson, director of the NGO Human Rights Watch for China. The UN Human Rights Council “should use this report to launch a full investigation into the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity,” she said.
Amnesty International also demands that the Council “establish an independent international mechanism to investigate” these crimes in Xinjiang.
“This report paves the way for serious and tangible action by Member States, UN agencies and companies,” said Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress and added: “Time to make accounts are ringing now.”
Bachelet refuses to “close his eyes”
China, which sees the report as a “farce” orchestrated by Westerners, is furious. The document is based “on disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-China forces” and “wantonly defames and slanders China and interferes in China’s internal affairs”, writes the Chinese Embassy to the UN in Geneva in the comment attached to the report.
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For her part, Michelle Bachelet – accused of being too lenient towards Beijing – replied: “Dialogue and trying to better understand does not mean that we are tolerant, that we look away or that we close the eyes. And even less that we cannot speak frankly.
Facts denied by Beijing
Xinjiang and other provinces of China have been hit for several decades, and in particular from 2009 to 2014, by attacks attributed to Islamists or Uyghur separatists. For several years, the region has been the subject of intense surveillance: ubiquitous cameras, security gates in buildings, armed forces very visible in the streets, restrictions on the issuance of passports…
Western studies, based on interpretations of official documents, testimonies of alleged victims and statistical extrapolations, accuse Beijing of having interned in “camps” at least a million people, mostly Uyghurs, of carrying out sterilizations and abortions “forced”, or to impose “forced labour”. The UN does not corroborate this figure but notes that “a significant proportion” of Uyghurs and Muslim minorities were interned.
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China denies these accusations and claims that the “camps” are in fact “vocational training centers” intended to keep residents away from religious extremism, and which are now closed.
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