The United States, the United Kingdom and Germany are urging China to allow “immediate and free” UN access to the region amid concerns over Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghur minority.
The United States, Germany and Britain have clashed with China at the United Nations over the treatment of Uighurs and people from other predominantly Muslim groups in Xinjiang as they advanced with a virtual event in which Beijing had pressured member states. of the UN to stay away from.
“We will continue to stand up and speak until the Chinese government stops its crimes against humanity and the genocide of Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang,” the US ambassador to the US said at the event. UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who said about 50 attended Wednesday.
They say the UN, some Western countries, academics and rights groups hundreds of thousands of Uighurs have been sent to re-education camps in the far west region. China has acknowledged the existence of the camps, but says they are vocational training centers needed to deal with the toughest groups.
“In Xinjiang, people are being tortured. Women are being sterilized by force, ”Thomas-Greenfield said.
Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard told the event that there are an estimated one million Uighurs and predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities arbitrarily detained.
In a note to UN member states last week, China’s UN mission rejected the allegations as “lies and false allegations” and accused the organizing countries of being “obsessed with provoking the confrontation with China “.
He urged countries not to “participate in this event against China,” but on Wednesday a Chinese diplomat addressed the allegations.
“China has nothing to hide in Xinjiang,” Chinese diplomat Guo Jiakun said. “Xinjiang is always open. We welcome everyone to visit Xinjiang, but we oppose any kind of investigation based on lies and with the presumption of guilt. “
The event was organized by Germany, the United States and Britain and sponsored by Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other European nations.
Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to the United Nations, told the meeting that there was “evidence of mass arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and incidents of torture. There are more reports of widespread forced labor and sterilization.”
There have also been reports of the destruction of Muslim cemeteries, the separation of children and Uighurs forced to eat pork in violation of their religious beliefs.
Human Rights Watch claimed last year that the crackdown was “turbocharged by technology”With the selection of people for arrest using algorithms that mark connections, travel patterns and even wear a headscarf.
“We are here today to face these events. And to call on China to allow immediate, meaningful and unrestricted access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and his office, ”Woodward said.
“We call on China to respect the universal declaration of human rights and we call on China to overthrow the detention camps,” German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen added.
“If you have nothing to hide, why don’t you finally grant unhindered access to the High Commissioner for Human Rights?” He asked China.
UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet did not attend the event and her absence was noted by Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.
“I’m sure she’s busy,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. But I have a similar global mandate to stand up for human rights and I can think of nothing more important than to accompany you here today. “
Ravina Shamdasani, deputy spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office, said Bachelet, who has expressed this serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and repeatedly requested unimpeded access – he was unable to participate.
“The High Commissioner continues to work with the Chinese authorities on the modalities of this visit,” he said, adding that Bachelet’s office “continues to collect and analyze relevant information and closely monitor the situation.”
On Wednesday, at the launch of his annual report on the state of religious freedom around the world, a U.S. State Department official accused China of turning Xinjiang into a “outdoor prison“.
Daniel Nadel, a senior official in the State Department’s Office of International Freedom, said the population was being closely monitored.
“Popular movements are closely monitored,” he said in a briefing. “You have mentors who have been assigned to live with the Uyghurs to control them. You have people going to the market who have to register every time they go to a different market stall, ”he said.
The report also details China’s persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group.