A cross-regional statement delivered by France on behalf of 43 member states of the United Nations, including Estonia, notes a widespread and systematic human rights violations against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, an autonomous territory in northwestern China.
The statement was delivered by France at the UN General Assembly Third Committee that deals with human rights and social matters.
“We are particularly concerned about the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” the statement noted, calling on China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (currently Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile).
“Credible-based reports indicate the existence of a large network of ‘political re-education’ camps where over a million people have been arbitrarily detained. We have seen an increasing number of reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations, including reports documenting torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced sterilization, sexual and gender-based violence, and forced separation of children. There are severe restrictions on freedom of religion or belief and the freedoms of movement, association and expression as well as on Uyghur culture. Widespread surveillance disproportionately continues to target Uyghurs and members of other minorities.”
“We urge China to ensure full respect for the rule of law and to comply with its obligations under national and international law with regard to the protection of human rights,” the statement said.
The statement was supported by Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Eswatini, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
China’s suppression of ethnic minorities is a genocide
A report in 2020 said China’s suppression of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other chiefly Muslim ethnic minorities in northwest China meets the United Nations definition of genocide, and that China has forced mass sterilisation, abortions and mandatory birth control on up to more than 1.5 million people.
The report said Uyghur women and other ethnic minorities are being threatened with internment in the camps for refusing to abort pregnancies that exceed birth quotas and women who had fewer than the two children legally permitted were involuntarily fitted with intra-uterine devices, while others were coerced into receiving sterilisation surgeries.
Cover: A rally in support of the Uyghur people, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kuzzat Altay/Unsplash.