Beijing-based ambassadors and diplomats from 25 developing countries visited the Uyghur region recently on invitation from the Chinese government. The visit was the latest effort by the Chinese government to prop up their official narrative that Uyghurs, Turkic and Muslim peoples are thriving and, contrary to accusations of genocide and forced labor by human rights organizations, exemplify economic and social progress.
Economic ties equal a rubber stamp for rights abuses and forced labor
Visits for foreign officials and influential people across a variety of professions have been on the rise as seen by the recent social media influencers visit to a Shein factory. In this most recent diplomatic visit, all participating countries have strong economic ties to China and have benefited from infrastructure projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Henryk Szadziewski, director of research at the Uyghur Human Rights Project, said
“Whether it is a western vlogger doing a travel blog or diplomats from countries that are friendly… (the) message that Xinjiang is now safe and prosperous as a region (is) a consistent tactic employed by the Chinese government to conceal their wrongdoings”
These visits attempt to paint “reeducation camps” as voluntary vocational training centers and not the forced labor concentration camps they are. A 2022 U.N human rights report on the camps found serious human rights violations “including allegations of torture, sexual violence, ill-treatment, forced medical treatment, as well as forced labor and reports of deaths in custody.”
Spreading propaganda and covering up crimes
Not just anyone is invited to visit the Uyghur region and China has rejected repeated requests by human rights groups and the U.S government for independent investigators be able to visit the region.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said:
“If everything is fine, why not let in independent international investigators, particularly given the mountain of evidence of some of the most serious crimes under international law?”
Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh, was forced to stay at one of the Uyghur “re-education” camps and she cautions visiting diplomats that by ignoring China’s rights abuses in the region they become accomplices in the crimes.
Shout the truth and demand China end the exploitation!
Freedom United is committed to sharing the truth about Uyghur forced labor by the Chinese government from solar panels, to cotton and manufacturing. Stand with us and tell the Chinese government you know the truth! Urge the government to end the persecution and exploitation of Uyghurs and other marginalized groups through the use of forced labor. Join the campaign by signing the petition.