Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

West, Japan rebuke China at UN for detention of Uighurs

West, Japan rebuke China at UN for detention of Uighurs

22 countries, including Japan, are urging China to close mass detention centers holding members of its Muslim minority.

The news outlet acknowledged that the multinational condemnation of China's concentration camps in Xinjiang marks the first time several members of the HRC join forces to denounce the mistreatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities at the hands of Beijing.

China claims that Uighurs are being educated in "vocational training centres" created to combat extremism.

The unprecedented letter to the president of the forum, dated July 8, was signed by the ambassadors of 22 countries.

In the letter, the diplomats expressed concerns about the extrajudicial incarceration in "large-scale places of detention, as well as widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang".

United Nations ambassadors from 22 states - including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan - co-signed the text sent to the Human Rights Council president, Coly Seck, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

However, the letter fell short of activists demands for a formal statement to be read out at the council, or a resolution submitted for a vote.

"Governments are increasingly recognizing the suffering of millions of people in Xinjiang, with families torn apart and living in fear, and a Chinese state that believes it can commit mass violations uncontested", Fisher said.

China on Thursday labelled as "slander" a letter sent to top United Nations officials by more than 20 countries condemning Beijing's treatment of ethnic minorities.

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In a statement, Human Rights Watch later welcomed the letter as "important not only for Xinjiang's population, but for people around the world who depend on the U.N.'s leading rights body to hold even the most powerful countries to account".

They are demanding that China allow independent global observers into the Xinjiang region, where the camps are located.

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has requested a fact-finding mission to Xinjiang and China has extended an open invitation for her to visit the region.

China denies abuse in the detention centers and calls them training schools aimed at combating extremism and providing employable skills.

One diplomat told Reuters China's delegation was "hopping mad" at the move and was preparing its own letter in response.

China has blamed the violence on Islamist extremists and separatists, while Uighur exiles and activists point to frustration at Chinese controls on their culture and religion.

Beijing was also forced Thursday to defend its human rights record from criticism by Slovakia and Britain.

In March, Pompeo met with a Uyghur survivor of the camps, and three other Uyghurs whose relatives have either been detained at the camps or criminally sentenced in China.

In March, the U.S. Department of State reported that China "significantly intensified" its crackdown on Muslims previous year.

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