22 countries demand end to China's oppression in Xinjiang

Human Rights Watch calls for UN investigation into Chinese oppression of ethnic minorities

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(By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A group of 22 countries has issued a joint statement demanding that China immediately end its large-scale arbitrary detention and oppression of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday (July 10).

In a letter to the UN Human Rights Council, signatory countries expressed their concern over Chinese actions that violate the human rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including the establishment of "re-education" camps and widespread surveillance. The statement also calls on China “to allow UN and independent international observers "meaningful access to Xinjiang."

In March, China attempted to suppress all scrutiny of its activities at HRW’s Universal Periodic Review, which regularly evaluates the human rights record of every UN member state, through manipulation of the meeting process. It provided blatantly false answers and threatened delegations not to attend any panel related to human rights in Xinjiang “in the interest of our bilateral relations.”

The previous joint statement, led by the U.S. in March 2016, had only 12 signatories. The nearly doubled number of signatories reflects skepticism over the official Chinese pronouncement on the situation.

“The joint statement demonstrates that Beijing is wrong to think it can escape international scrutiny for its abuses in Xinjiang, and the pressure will only increase until these appalling abuses end," said Fisher, HMW's Geneva director. He also noted the statement's importance "not only for Xinjiang’s population, but for people around the world who depend on the UN’s leading rights body to hold even the most powerful countries to account.”

The following countries have signed the agreement: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. HWR expects more countries to follow.