50 countries urge China to release detained Uyghurs

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Fifty, mostly Western, countries on Monday urged China to fully implement all recommendations of a UN report accusing the country of possible “crimes against humanity” against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, including taking swift action to release all those “arbitrarily deprived of their liberty” in the western province of Xinjiang.

Canada’s UN Ambassador Bob Rae read the statement at a meeting of the General Assembly Human Rights Committee, expressing grave concern over the human rights situation in China and Beijing’s failure so far to discuss the report’s findings on ongoing violations against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups. .

Human rights groups have accused China of dragging a million or more people from minority groups into detention camps where many said they were tortured, sexually assaulted and forced to give up their lives. language and their religion. The camps were just part of what rights organizations called a ruthless campaign against extremism in Xinjiang that also included draconian birth control policies and comprehensive restrictions on the movement of people.

The assessment by the Geneva-based UN human rights office was released in the final minutes of High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s four-year tenure on August 31. It largely corroborates previous reports by researchers, advocacy groups and the media.

The report concludes that China has committed serious human rights violations in its counter-terrorism and counter-extremism policies and calls for “urgent attention” from the UN, the global community and China itself to remedy.

The 50-country statement calls the report “an independent and authoritative assessment that draws heavily on China’s own records” and “makes an important contribution to existing evidence of serious and systematic human rights violations in China.” “.

In light of the “seriousness” of the report’s assessment, the countries expressed concern “that China has so far refused to discuss its findings” and urged the government “to fully implement the recommendations “.

In addition to calling for compliance with the recommendation to release all those arbitrarily detained, the 50 countries urged China to clarify “the fate and whereabouts of missing family members” and to arrange contact and safe meetings.

In response to the statement, the Uyghur Human Rights Project tweeted that “a growing number of UN member states are pushing back against China’s treatment of Uyghurs.”

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted that the statement “supported by a record number of 50 countries on 6 continents, demonstrates the growing scale of international concern”.

The 50 countries that have signed the declaration are: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Eswatini, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland , Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Marin, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Last week, the US, UK and others hosted a follow-up meeting to the former high commissioner’s report that included UN ambassadors, Uyghur human rights activists , the UN Special Investigator on Minority Rights and Human Rights Watch.

China’s mission to the UN sent a letter to all UN member states expressing its “resolute opposition” to the meeting and urging them to boycott “this anti-China event”.

“This is a politically motivated event,” said the letter, obtained by The Associated Press. “The co-sponsors use human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in the internal affairs of China like Xinjiang, to create divisions and turbulence and disrupt China’s development.”

Calling the event “disinformation propaganda”, the letter accused the sponsors of violating “the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international relations”.

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