Geneva, MINA – A group of UN Human Rights Experts on Monday, voiced concern over the alleged detention and forced labor of Uyghurs in China, urging them to gain unhindered access to the country for a fact-finding mission.
The experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) said they had received information linking more than 150 domestic Chinese and foreign companies domiciled there with serious allegations of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslim workers, Anadolu Agency reported.
“We are deeply concerned about these allegations which, if proven will constitute a serious human rights violation,” they said in a statement.
The group of experts is one of eight independent UN human rights mandates to investigate concerns over the treatment of China’s Uyghur ethnic minority.
“We are prepared to strengthen our dialogue with the Chinese Government at the earliest opportunity and welcome the Government’s swift response to these allegations and its willingness to continue constructive engagement with us,” they said.
As independent experts appointed by the HRC, of which China is a member, they considered an official visit to China, including the Xinjiang region where most of the Uyghurs live, would be an ideal opportunity to assess the situation.
Citing “sources”, they said Uyghur workers were reported to have been subjected to exploitative work and abusive living conditions that may constitute arbitrary detention, human trafficking, and forced labor and slavery.
The source accused hundreds of thousands of members of the Uyghur minority of being held in “re-education” facilities.
“Uyghur workers are suspected of being forcibly employed in low-skilled and labor-intensive industries, such as agribusiness, textiles and garments, the automotive and technology sectors,” Dante Pesce, the Chairperson of the Group said.
Experts say that China is justifying its treatment of Uyghurs to combat terrorism and violent extremism, alleviate poverty, or for development purposes.
“But we respectfully urge the Chinese Government to immediately stop any actions that are not fully in compliance with international laws, norms and standards relating to human rights, including the rights of minorities,” Pesce said.
Many businesses and factories engaged in abusive practices reportedly operate as part of the supply chains of various well-known global brands, experts say.
They have also written to the governments of the 13 countries in which the business is domiciled, bearing in mind their obligation under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure that businesses under their jurisdiction respect all human rights during their operations.
“Many businesses have also been implicated in these allegations, either directly or through their supply chains,” they said.
“Businesses must not turn a blind eye to this and must carry out meaningful human rights due diligence in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for human rights violations that are caused, contribute to or are directly related to operations, products or services. in Xinjiang and in other Chinese provinces,” Surya Deva, Vice Chairperson of the Group.
“At the same time, the Chinese Government must create an environment conducive for all businesses operating in China to carry out human rights due diligence in line with international standards,” he added. (T/R7/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)