the UN evokes crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, anger of Beijing

the UN evokes crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, anger of Beijing

“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups […] may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the report of just under fifty pages states in its conclusions.

Michelle Bachelet, whose last day was at the head of the High Commission after a four-year mandate, thus holds in extremis its promise by publishing the document shortly before midnight in Geneva.

If it does not seem to contain any revelations compared to what was already known about the situation in Xinjiang, this document brings the seal of the UN to the accusations leveled for a long time against the Chinese authorities.

Torture, sexual violence

In this document, the UN called on the international community to act urgently in the face of accusations of torture and sexual violence in Xinjiang that the organization considers “credible”.

“Allegations of recurring practices of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and poor conditions of detention, are credible, as are individual allegations of sexual and gender-based violence,” writes the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the report.

This report “lays bare the massive violations of fundamental rights by China”, declared Sophie Richardson, director of the NGO Human Rights Watch for China. The UN Human Rights Council “should use this report to launch a comprehensive investigation into the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity,” she said.

Amnesty International also demands that the Council “establish an international independent mechanism to investigate” these crimes in Xinjiang.

“This report paves the way for serious and tangible actions by Member States, UN agencies and companies”, welcomed Dolkun Isa, President of the World Uyghur Congress and added: “Time to make accounts rings now”.

For its part, China is furious. The document is based “on disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-China forces” and “wantonly defames and slanders China and interferes in China’s internal affairs”, writes the Chinese Embassy to the UN in Geneva in the comment attached to the report.

For her part, Michelle Bachelet – accused of being too lenient towards Beijing – replied: “Dialogue and trying to understand better does not mean that we are tolerant, that we look away or that we close the eyes. And even less that one cannot speak frankly”.

Genocide charges

A quick search of the UN text does not bring up the word genocide. An accusation on the other hand brought against Beijing by the American government but also the French National Assembly or the representations of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands or Canada.

Xinjiang and other provinces of China have been hit for several decades, and in particular from 2009 to 2014, by attacks attributed to Islamists or Uyghur separatists.

For several years now, the region has been the subject of intense surveillance: ubiquitous cameras, security gates in buildings, armed forces very visible in the streets, restrictions on the issuance of passports, etc.

Western studies, based on interpretations of official documents, testimonies of alleged victims and statistical extrapolations, accuse Beijing of having interned in “camps” at least a million people, mostly Uyghurs, of carrying out sterilizations and abortions “forced”, or to impose “forced labour”.

The UN does not corroborate this figure but notes “that a significant proportion” of Uyghurs and Muslim minorities were interned.

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