Geneva, MINA – A total of 47 countries voiced concern about alleged abuses in Xinjiang Province and demanded that the UN human rights chief publish a report on the situation in the region.
“We continue to be very concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” Paul Bekkers, Dutch Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva told the UN Human Rights Council, Al Jazeera reported it Wednesday.
In a joint statement on behalf of 47 countries, Bekkers cited credible reports of more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities being arbitrarily detained.
Beijing admits there are camps but they are vocational skills training centers and are needed to tackle extremism.
“There are reports of ongoing widespread surveillance, discrimination against Uighurs and other people belonging to minorities,” he said.
The joint statement also raised concerns about reports of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, forced labor and the forced separation of children from their parents by the authorities.
The countries concerned, Bekkers said, “reiterate our call on China to urgently address this issue and end the arbitrary detention of Uighur Muslims and people belonging to other minorities”.
The group also called on Beijing to give UN investigators and experts meaningful and unrestricted access to independently observe the situation in Xinjiang.
After months of demanding unrestricted access to Xinjiang, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet finally visited China last month. The first visit by a UN rights chief to the country in 17 years.
However, he has faced strong criticism for not speaking out more about alleged Chinese abuses before and during the trip, which is believed to be heavily controlled by Chinese authorities.
In a joint statement, the countries asked for more detailed observations, including the restrictions that Chinese authorities had imposed on Bachelet’s visits.
Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Chen Xu reacted to the joint statement. He condemned the Netherlands and other signatories for spreading what he said were lies and rumors to attack China.
“We categorically reject these allegations,” he said, accusing countries of being behind statements of hypocrisy and attempts to engage in political manipulation.
Xu praised Bachelet’s visit, insisting it had improved her understanding of China’s human rights development path. (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)