China, Uyghurs battle for support at UN over Xinjiang rights report — Radio Free Asia

China has vowed to “fight” any UN action on human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, cited in a damning report by the UN human rights chief, as Uyghurs press the world body to press ahead with investigations and other concrete follow-up measures.

The report issued on August 30 by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet concluded that China’s arbitrary detention and repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in Xinjiang “may constitute international crimes, especially crimes against humanity.”

Uyghurs and their supporters want the United States and other Western countries to follow up with a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning the alleged abuses, an investigation and a special envoy on Xinjiang.

China, which dismissed the Bachelet report as “based on disinformation and lies manufactured by anti-China forces”, sent a large delegation to the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week to condemn the report and present its rebuttal.

“The assessment is based on a presumption of guilt, mostly includes disinformation and lies,” Xu Guixiang, head of the Xinjiang government’s information office, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

“If some forces in the international community — or even anti-China forces — make so-called ‘Xinjiang-related moves’ or so-called ‘resolutions,’ we will not be afraid,” Xu said. “We will take countermeasures resolutely and fight.”

Bachelet’s report puts a UN imprimatur on many findings in investigative reports issued by rights groups, researchers, foreign media and think tanks in the five years since Chinese authorities began detaining up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in internment camps in Xinjiang,

The predominantly Muslim groups have also been subjected to torture, forced sterilizations and forced labour, as well as the eradication of their linguistic, cultural and religious traditions, in what the US and several Western parliaments have called genocide and crimes against humanity.

Beijing has angrily denied all accusations, insisting it runs vocational training facilities in the region to counter extremism. The Chinese delegation in Geneva this week included a large number of officials who challenged the reports and a group of Uighurs who claimed to support Chinese policies.

“The Chinese mission held a side event at the UN yesterday with five Uyghurs to promote their propaganda that Uyghurs are free and happy in China,” said Zumretay Arkin, program and advocacy at the World Uyghur Congress

“Some diplomats from Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe came to support China, while some Western diplomats came to hear what China had to say,” said Arkin, who is campaigning for the US-led democracies to introduce a resolution condemning China’s genocide of the Uighurs.

Addlet Sabit comforts her daughter as she shows photos of her father, Ablimit Ablaze, whom she has never met, during a hunger strike in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2022. Credit: Gemunu Amarasinghe/RFA
Addlet Sabit comforts her daughter as she shows photos of her father, Ablimit Ablaze, whom she has never met, during a hunger strike in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 21, 2022. Credit: Gemunu Amarasinghe/RFA

‘Put our words into action’

Group of 7 foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and welcomed the report, promising to “tap these issues with partners, civil society and the international community.”

The G7 ministers “remained deeply concerned about the serious human rights violations in Xinjiang and noted the overall assessment of the report that some of these violations may constitute ‘international crimes’, in particular crimes against humanity,” a German foreign minister said in a statement. Minister Annalena Baerbock, chairperson.

The G7 statement on Thursday came after US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Sholtz raised rights abuses in Xinjiang in their speeches to the UN General Assembly.

In Washington this week, the Uyghur American Association staged a hunger strike in front of the White House by leaders of the advocacy group and by three internment camp survivors to demand US-led steps to translate the UN report into concrete action.

Chris Smith, co-chairman of the Uyghur Caucus, who visited the hunger strikers outside the White House on Wednesday, introduced a bill calling on the Biden administration to direct the US mission team in Geneva to sponsor a resolution that would establish a UN commission to to examine the issues raised in the Bachelet report.

“The UN’s recent report shows that Communist China is guilty of serious human rights abuses that amount, at minimum, to crimes against humanity in the eyes of the international community,” Smith said.

“We must speak forcefully about these atrocities and put our words into practice at the UN,” she added.

Kellie Currie, former US ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, called on Biden to “not only introduce a resolution in the Human Rights Council, but you have to personally make sure it passes by doing everything you can and reaching out to other countries, using the political capital and influence that you have with other countries that are on the Human Rights Council to make sure it goes through.”

Reporting and translation by Alim Seytoff. Written by Paul Eckert.

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