U.S. Welcomes UN Report On China's Abuses In Xinjiang As Beijing Hardens Its Denial
By RFE/RL September 02, 2022
The United States has welcomed a United Nations report saying China may have committed crimes against humanity in its western region of Xinjiang.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on September 1 that the report by departing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet authoritatively described China's "appalling treatment" of Uyghurs and other minorities.
"This report deepens and reaffirms our grave concern regarding the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity that [Chinese] government authorities are perpetrating against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang," Blinken said.
Bachelet released the report excoriating Beijing for "serious human rights violations" and possible "crimes against humanity" on August 31. It cited "arbitrary and discriminatory detention" of Uyghurs and other Muslims in the western Chinese region.
China has vigorously denied any abuses in Xinjiang, insisting it is running centers for vocational education designed to curb Islamic extremism.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the report "completely illegal and void" and told a regular briefing on September 1 that it "is a political tool which serves as part of the West's strategy of using Xinjiang to control China."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stood by the report and called on China to follow the text's recommendations to end "discriminatory" practices against the Uyghurs and others who have been sent to the detention centers.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said separately that the United States would work with allies and partners to demand an end to China's abuses.
"It is critical that the full Human Rights Council membership have an opportunity to formally discuss the findings of this report as soon as possible and that the perpetrators of these atrocities are held accountable," she said in a statement.
China has been accused for years of detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims in the region.
The UN Human Rights Office could not confirm how many people were affected by the centers but concluded that the system operated on a "wide scale" across the entire region.
Human Rights Watch's China director Sophie Richardson said the "damning" findings showed why Beijing "fought tooth and nail" to prevent its publication.
Uyghur Human Rights Project Executive Director Omer Kanat called the report "a game-changer" for the international response to the Uyghur situation, but Salih Hudayar, a Uyghur-American who campaigns for Xinjiang independence, said the document was missing the word "genocide."
With reporting by Reuters and AFP
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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