Possible crimes against humanity committed against Uighurs in China, says UN

The long-awaited UN report on China’s Xinjiang region, released at the last minute on Wednesday, cites possible “crimes against humanity” and “credible evidence” of torture and sexual violence committed against the Uighur minority and calls on the international community to act.

“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of the Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim groups may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the just under 50-page report states in its conclusions.

While it does not appear to include any revelations in relation to what was already known about the situation in Xinjiang, this document brings the UN’s seal of approval to the long-standing accusations against the Chinese authorities.

Its publication had been the subject of intense pressure from supporters to implement it – notably from the United States and major human rights NGOs – and, conversely, to prevent it from seeing the light of day from Beijing, which views the report as a “farce” orchestrated by the West, led by Washington.

Torture, sexual violence

In this document, the UN called on the international community to take urgent action in the face of accusations of torture and sexual violence in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, which the organization considers credible.

“Allegations of recurrent practices of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and poor detention conditions, are credible, as are individual allegations of sexual and gender-based violence,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote in the report.

“Better late than never. It will be a decisive moment,” Sophie Richardson, China director of the NGO Human Rights Watch, told AFP before the document was released. She believed that it would show “that no state is above the law”.

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More than the content, it is the existence and the publication of the document that is important to him, because it will force the United Nations Human Rights Council to take up the matter.

Accusations of genocide

A quick search of the UN text does not turn up the word “genocide”, but rather an accusation made against Beijing by the US government. In January, the French National Assembly, following in the footsteps of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada, also described China’s treatment of the Uighurs as “genocide”.

Western studies, based on interpretations of official documents, testimonies of alleged victims and statistical extrapolations, accuse Beijing of having interned at least one million people, mostly Uighurs, in “camps”, of carrying out “forced” sterilizations and abortions, and of imposing “forced labour”.