The United Nations secretary general on Thursday backed a report by his Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on violations of the rights of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region, described by Beijing as a political tool written by “henchmen” of the West.
Guterres called on China to follow the recommendations of the report, which confirms what the secretary-general has been saying for some time about Xinjiang: that human rights must be respected and that the Uighur community must be respected, said Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
The nearly 50-page text is completely illegal and invalid, said Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in Beijing.
This report is a bunch of misinformation and a political tool for the strategy of the United States and the West, which aims to use Xinjiang to hinder China.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the release of the report and demanded that Beijing be held accountable for what the U.S. calls genocide.
Despite pressure from Beijing, the OHCHR released its long-awaited report on the situation in Xinjiang on Wednesday evening. A mixture of interviews conducted by its services and first and second hand information, it raises the possibility of crimes against humanity perpetrated in the region.
Xinjiang and the rest of China have long been plagued by bloody attacks on civilians. They have been committed, according to the authorities, by Uighur separatists and Islamists the region’s largest ethnic group.
In response, the authorities launched a relentless campaign a few years ago in the name of anti-terrorism, with ubiquitous military police, identity checks and an extensive network of surveillance cameras.
Western studies accuse Beijing of interning more than a million Uighurs and members of other Muslim ethnic groups in re-education camps and even of imposing forced labor and “forced sterilizations.
China denounced subjective reports and spoke of vocational training centers designed to increase employment and eradicate extremism. It denies any forced sterilization, saying it is only applying the national policy of birth control.
The UN report does not corroborate the figure of one million people, but states that a significant proportion of Uighurs and members of Xinjiang’s Muslim minorities have been interned.
It describes a pattern of large-scale arbitrary detention in high-security facilities in the region, implemented at least from 2017 to 2019.
“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim groups may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the report says.
The OHCHR created this report out of thin air, relying on the political conspiracy of some anti-China forces abroad, Wang Wenbin said.
Without confirming them, the UN report also considers credible the accusations of torture, sexual violence, and even rape that are aimed at the internment facilities in Xinjiang.
It is not possible to draw broader conclusions as to whether there have been wider patterns of sexual” and gender-related violence, however, the UN notes.
The report does not, however, use the word genocide. This term is used by the United States, but also by the French National Assembly and the representations of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada.
This shows that the lies fabricated by the United States and the West have been completely deflated,” Chinese spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Thursday.
Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, whose last day at the helm of the High Commissioner’s office was Wednesday after a four-year term, kept her promise in extremis, releasing the document shortly before midnight in Geneva.
Although it does not contain any revelations, this report brings the seal of the UN to the accusations that have long been made against the Chinese authorities. Its publication had been the subject of intense pressure.
Human rights organizations and the United States, which has identified China as its strategic rival, wanted to make it public. Beijing, on the other hand, was strongly opposed.
Some foreign-based Uighur organizations welcomed the report, but others wished it had been more forceful in condemning China.
This is a game changer for the Uyghur cause internationally, Omer Kanat, executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, gushed. The UN has just officially recognized that horrible crimes are being committed.
But Salih Hudayar, a Uyghur based in the U.S., where he advocates for Xinjiang’s independence, said Thursday that the report “is unfortunately not as strong as we had hoped.
On the diplomatic front, the European Union “welcomed” the report, saying, according to its head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell, that it highlights the serious human rights violations that are taking place in Xinjiang. London, for its part, considered that the report shames China.