China rebuked by 22 nations over Xinjiang repression

World Thursday 11/July/2019 18:32 PM
By: Times News Service
China rebuked by 22 nations over Xinjiang repression

Vienna: A group of 22 countries have urged China to allow independent observers to access and investigate suspected grave human rights violations in Xinjiang.

In an unprecedented move, a cross-regional group sent a letter addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of the Human Rights Council, expressing concern over widespread surveillance, restrictions to freedom of religion and movement, and large-scale arbitrary detention of the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.

The joint letter was sent by ambassadors from 22 countries across Asia Pacific, Western and Eastern Europe and North America. In the letter, they have urged China to uphold its national laws and international obligations.

The letter sends a clear message that Council membership does not shield any country from its international obligations. On the contrary, as a Council member, China must uphold the highest standards in promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and fully cooperate with the Council.

This move comes at a time where China is deploying vast diplomatic and propaganda efforts to rebuke what it deems as ‘Western hypocrisy’ and legitimise grave rights violations in Xinjiang, against findings by the High Commissioner herself.

Welcoming the letter, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) Director Phil Lynch said: "It is significant and positive that 22 States have joined together to express concern about the widespread arbitrary detention, as well as the systematic racial and religious discrimination, against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims and minorities in Xinjiang.

"These violations, possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, must be fully and independently investigated, with both individual and Chinese State actors held to account,' Lynch said. 'We urge the principled and courageous governments that have signed this letter to follow up through bilateral pressure and, unless there is substantial improvement in the meantime, also through collective action in the form of a resolution when the Council next convenes in September."

In a statement delivered last week, the Chinese delegation stated it had "always called for constructive dialogue and cooperation.”

The joint letter was sent on behalf of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and 15 EU States, including Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands.