Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

West, Japan Rebuke China at United Nations for Detention of Uyghurs

West, Japan Rebuke China at United Nations for Detention of Uyghurs

More than 20 countries of the UN Human Rights Council have signed a document asking China to end the mistreatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang detention centers.

The Chinese side has lodged solemn representations with the countries, Geng said, urging the relevant countries to respect the facts, abandon prejudice, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and stop politicizing human rights issues and using the issue of Xinjiang to interfere in China's internal affairs.

Britain, France and Germany were among the European nations to join the call, along with Australia, Canada and Japan, but not the United States, which quit the council a year ago.

In an unprecedented letter seen by Reuters, ambassadors from 22 countries voiced their concerns about reports of unlawful detention in "large-scale places of detention, as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang".

The decision was down to fears of political and economic retaliation from Beijing, diplomats told Reuters.

A group of 22 countries have urged China to allow independent observers to access and investigate suspected grave human rights violations in Xinjiang.

China is estimated to have arbitrarily detained up to 1 million Muslims in Xinjiang.

Previously, China's ambassador to the United Nations said it welcomed Bachelet to visit, but her office responded that she would not accept the invitation unless given access to the internment camps on her own terms.

"The Chinese government and Chinese people have the most say on Xinjiang issues and can not be interfered by any country or external forces", he said.

Reuters quoted a diplomat as saying China's delegation to the United Nations was "hopping mad" about the letter and is preparing its own response.

Allegations of torture inside the camps are rampant, including in accounts given to CNN by former detainees describing forced education under the threat of violence.

Under the pretext of combating "extremism", the Chinese regime has launched an expansive crackdown on the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region. "The joint statement demonstrates that Beijing is wrong to think it can escape global scrutiny for its abuses in Xinjiang, and the pressure will only increase until these appalling abuses end".

He also claimed that the efforts of the Chinese government have been fruitful in containing terrorism and religious extremism in Xinjiang.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a daily briefing on Thursday that the letter "disregarded the facts, slandered and attacked China with unwarranted accusations, flagrantly politicised human rights issues and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs".

The provision requires that the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats submit to congressional intelligence committees a report on activities by Beijing to repress ethnic Muslim minorities in Xinjing, no later than 150 days after the Act's passage.

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