United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, expressed her concerns about human rights violations in the Uyghur Region at a recent meeting of the Human Rights Council.
She said that,
In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, information that is in the public domain indicates the need for independent and comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation. My Office continues to assess the alleged patterns of human rights violations, including reports of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and sexual violence in institutions; coercive labour practises; and erosion of social and cultural rights.
The last visit of a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to China was in 2005.
What Bachelet is referring to is the widely reported account of state-organized imprisonment, forced labor, torture and sexual violence of Uyghur and other Muslim people in detainment camps in the Uyghur Region of China.
It appears that the end goal of the Chinese government is the total erasure of Uyghur culture and religion – hence the increasing number of countries that are calling this conduct genocide.
Indeed, the human rights chief is but the latest in headlines calling attention to the plight of Uyghur people. Last week, the parliaments of Canada and the Netherlands passed motions to recognize this treatment as genocide.
The United Kingdom’s’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also said earlier that torture, forced labour and sterilisations are taking place on an “industrial scale” in Xinjiang.
France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced “an institutionalised system of surveillance and repression on a large scale”.
The Biden administration has endorsed a determination by the Trump administration in its final days that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang and has said the United States must be prepared to impose costs on China.
China’s foreign ministry has denied all allegations, dubbing reports as a smear campaign to “interfere in China’s internal affairs”. According to China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, “There has never been so-called genocide, forced labour, or religious oppression in Xinjiang.”
Evidence collected by rights groups points to this being simply untrue.
The Freedom United community has been pushing back against the mistreatment of the Uyghur people, urging the Chinese government to end the detention and forced labor of the Uyghur people and contacting fashion brands that are potentially implicated in Uyghur forced labor to demand that they leave the Uyghur region.
We are part of a Coalition of over 180 organizations, including 70 Uyghur groups, calling on apparel companies to leave the Uyghur region.
We are pleased that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights intends to investigate the situation on the ground and hope that this can be done as soon as possible. However, we are also aware that the ongoing human rights violations will not end until the Chinese government takes action.
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