47 nations voice concern over Beijing's treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang
Geneva: As many as 47 countries have voiced concern about China's Uyghur repression and Beijing's abuses in the country’s far-western Xinjiang region.
Those nations also demanded that the United Nations rights chief publish a long-delayed report on Beijing's Uyghur repression.
“We continue to be gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” Dutch ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Paul Bekkers, told the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, reported Al Jazeera.
According to reports, Paul Bekkers, while delivering a joint statement on behalf of 47 countries, pointed to a number of “credible reports” indicating that more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been arbitrarily detained.
Denying the existence of any detention camp in the region, Beijing has admitted that there are camps but that they are “vocational skills training centres” and necessary to tackle “extremism”.
“There are reports of ongoing widespread surveillance, discrimination against Uyghurs and other persons belonging to minorities in Xinjiang region,” Bekkers said.
The joint statement also voiced concern about “reports of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilisation, sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour, and forced separation of children from their parents by authorities”, reports ANI.
Al Jazeera reported that the group also called on Beijing to provide UN investigators and experts “meaningful and unfettered access” to independently observe the situation on the ground in Xinjiang region.
After months of demanding “unfettered access” to Xinjiang, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet finally visited China last month, which was the first visit by a UN rights chief to the country in the last 17 years.
But she faced harsh criticism for not speaking up more forcefully against China’s alleged abuses prior to and during the trip, which is believed to have been heavily controlled by Chinese authorities, according to reports.
In Tuesday’s joint statement, those 47 nations asked for “more detailed observations, including on the restrictions the Chinese authorities imposed on the visit” of Bachelet.
The UN rights chief has faced growing pressure to release her long-delayed report on Xinjiang, which diplomats claim has been ready for months.
UN rights chief Bachelet, who announced on Monday that she will not be seeking a second term for the position, has promised that the long-delayed report would be published before she steps down on August 31.
Asked Bachelet to provide “further information on the timeline”, Tuesday’s joint statement urged the report’s “prompt release”.