Forty-seven countries expressed concern about abuses in China’s far-western Xinjiang region, and demanded that UN rights chiefs publish a long-delayed report on the repression of Uighurs.
“We are seriously concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” Dutch ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Paul Bakers, told the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday. Al Jazeera reports.
Making a joint statement on behalf of 47 countries, Bakers pointed to several “credible reports” indicating that more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been arbitrarily detained.
Beijing has acknowledged that there are camps but they are “vocational skills training centres” and needed to combat “extremism”.
“There are reports of widespread surveillance, discrimination against Uighurs and other persons belonging to minorities,” he said.
The joint statement also expressed concerns about “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour, and reports of forced separation of children from their parents by authorities”. done.
The countries concerned, Bakers said, “reiterate our call to China to urgently address these concerns”, and “end the arbitrary detention of persons belonging to Muslim Uighurs and other minorities”.
Al Jazeera reported that the group called on Beijing to provide “meaningful and unfettered access” to UN investigators and experts to independently inspect the situation on the ground in Xinjiang.
After months of demands for “unfettered access” to Xinjiang, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet finally visited China last month – the country’s first visit by a UN rights chief in 17 years.
But he faced harsh criticism for not speaking out more strongly against alleged abuses from China before and during the visit, which is believed to have been heavily controlled by Chinese officials.
In Tuesday’s joint statement, the countries asked for more detailed comments “including restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities on Bachelet’s travel.”
The UN rights chief is facing mounting pressure to release his long-delayed report on Xinjiang, which diplomats say has been ready for months.
Bachelet, who announced on Monday that she would not seek a second term, has promised the report will be published before she steps down on August 31.
Tuesday’s joint statement urged an “expedited release” of the report, and asked Bachelet to provide “further information on the timeline.”
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