UN calls for unhindered access to Xinjiang over China's gross human rights violations

ANI
·6-min read
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Representative Image

Geneva [Switzerland], March 30 (ANI): The United Nations human rights experts have expressed serious concerns over the continuous crackdowns on the Uyghur community residing in Xinjiang, calling for unhindered access to the country to conduct fact-finding missions and urging global and domestic companies to closely scrutinise their supply chains.

According to a news release by the UN Human Rights Special Procedures dated Monday, several experts appointed by the Human Rights Council said they had received information that connected over 150 domestic Chinese and foreign domiciled companies to serious human rights abuses against Uyghur workers.

"We are deeply concerned by these allegations which, if proven, would constitute grave human rights abuses," stated the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, one of eight UN independent human rights mandates to raise their concerns over treatment of members of the Uyghur minority.

"We stand ready to strengthen our dialogue with the Government of China at the earliest opportunity and welcome the Government's prompt response to these allegations as well as its willingness to continue the constructive engagement with us. As independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council, of which China is a State Member, we consider that an official visit to China (including the Xinjiang region) would be the ideal opportunity for such dialogue and to assess the situation for ourselves based on free and unhindered access," they added.

Uyghur workers have been subjected to exploitative working and abusive living conditions that may constitute arbitrary detention, human trafficking, forced labour and enslavement by the use of forced labour. Hundreds of thousands of members of the Uyghur minority have been held in so-called "re-education" facilities. Many have also reportedly been forcibly transferred to work in factories in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and in other Chinese provinces.

"Uyghur workers have allegedly been forcibly employed in low-skilled, labor-intensive industries, such as agribusiness, textile and garment, automotive and technological sectors," stated Dante Pesce, Chairperson of the Working Group, as quoted by the statement.

"While the Government of China justifies its actions relating to the treatment of Uyghurs by combatting terrorism and violent extremism, poverty alleviation or development purposes, we nevertheless respectfully urge the Government to immediately cease any such measures that are not fully compliant with international law, norms and standards relating to human rights, including the rights of minorities," continued Pesce.

The statement noted that the UN experts have written to the Government of China as well as private businesses, both inside and outside of China that may be implicated in the alleged abuses. They have also written to governments of 13 countries where the businesses are domiciled or headquartered, recalling the obligations of home States under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure that businesses under their territory and/or jurisdiction respect all human rights throughout their operations.

"Many businesses are also implicated in these allegations, either directly or through their supply chains. Businesses must not turn a blind eye to this and must conduct meaningful human rights due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for human rights abuses caused, contributed to or directly linked to their operations, products or services in Xinjiang and in other Chinese provinces," said Surya Deva, Vice-Chairperson of the Working Group.

"At the same time, the Chinese Government must create an environment conducive for all businesses operating in China to conduct human rights due diligence in line with international standards," noted Deva.

The global body's concerns come as international condemnation is growing against Beijing's crackdowns against the Uyghur community.

Last week, EU foreign ministers included four Chinese citizens and one organisation on the sanctions list over alleged human rights violations and what they perceive as persecution of the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Beijing responded by imposing sanctions on 10 European officials and four organisations.

The US, Canada and the UK later also joined in on the sanctions against China. In response, China sanctioned the chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Gayle Conelly Manchin, Vice Chair Tony Perkins, and the Canadian member of parliament Michael Chong.

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that Western sanctions were "based on rumors and misinformation."

China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.

Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, according to a report.

The US Department of State under then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the crackdown on Uyghurs as 'genocide'. Beijing has been restricting information flow from the area to scrub evidence, leading countries to make determinations as best as they can.

Surveillance and censorship have long hindered a full view of conditions in Xinjiang. However, last year, Beijing locked-down borders, citing the coronavirus; expelled foreign journalists who reported on Xinjiang; and scrubbed information off websites across the region, reported Washington Post.

The designation of genocide would become an indelible stain on President Xi Jinping's legacy and further boost European nations to join the United States in imposing economic sanctions and calls to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.

Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, according to a report.

The US Department of State under then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the crackdown on Uyghurs as 'genocide'. Beijing has been restricting information flow from the area to scrub evidence, leading countries to make determinations as best as they can.

Surveillance and censorship have long hindered a full view of conditions in Xinjiang. However, last year, Beijing locked-down borders, citing the coronavirus; expelled foreign journalists who reported on Xinjiang; and scrubbed information off websites across the region, reported Washington Post.

The designation of genocide would become an indelible stain on President Xi Jinping's legacy and further boost European nations to join the United States in imposing economic sanctions and calls to boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. (ANI)