A long-delayed report from the UN human rights agency says human rights violations against mainly Muslim Uyghurs are the result of “anti-terrorism law systems.”
China’s detention of Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang could amount to “crimes against humanity,” the United Nations human rights agency said in a long-delayed report finally published late Wednesday.
The 45-page report (PDF) called on Beijing to immediately release “all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty”, clarify the whereabouts of those whose families have been unable to locate them, and make a “complete review” of its laws. on homeland security and repeal all discriminatory laws.
The Uyghurs are a predominantly Muslim Turkish people who differ in religion, language and culture from the majority Han ethnic group in China.
In 2018, a groundbreaking report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination revealed that about one million people were being held in a network of detention centers in Xinjiang, and UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for “unlimited” access to visits to the region and the assess situation.
Bachelet, whose term of office expired minutes after the report was published on Wednesday, was finally allowed to enter China in May.
After the tightly choreographed visit, which was criticized by human rights groups and other experts, she announced she would not seek a second term. Her office came under pressure from China not to publish the report, while other countries pushed for its urgent release.
“Serious violations of human rights have been committed” in Xinjiang “in the context of the government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter-terrorism strategies,” the report said.
“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups … may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, but later said they were vocational training centers needed to deal with “extremism”.
In a letter published in an appendix to the report, China’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva said it strongly opposed the report’s publication, claiming it was based on “disinformation and lies fabricated by anti -Chinese troops and presumption of guilt”. .
“Having a happy life is the primary human right,” it added, stressing that “all ethnic groups in Xinjiang” lived “happy lives” because of the government’s decision to “fight terrorism and extremism.”
It also added its own 122 page report, prepared by the Xinjiang Government Information Bureau, Fight against Terrorism and Extremism in Xinjiang: Truth and Fact (PDF), defending its national security policy.
Since the UN’s first report on the camps in 2018, leaks of official government documents, investigations by human rights groups and academics, as well as testimonies from Uyghurs themselves, have revealed more details about the situation in the region.
Uyghurs say they have faced a variety of abuses, from forced sterilization to family separation and humiliation, including being forced to eat pork or live with Han Chinese family “babysitters”.
It is also widely believed that Uyghurs are victims of forced labor in Xinjiang’s vast cotton industry.