Israel refrains from condemning China over Uyghur abuses 'to protect interests'

Israel refrains from condemning China over Uyghur abuses 'to protect interests'
Israel refrained from adding its signature to a United Nations statement deploring China's human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority in Xinjiang to 'protect its interests.'
2 min read
26 October, 2021
Uyghur Muslims have been subjected to religious persecution and forced labour in China [Getty]

Israel has refrained from adding its signature to a statement read before the United Nations deploring China's human rights violations against the minority Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Last week, 43 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and several European and Asian countries signed the statement, which expressed particular concern at "credible-based reports" of the existence of "re-education camps" in the Xinjiang province.

"We call on China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and her office," the countries said in a joint statement, read at the United Nations by France.

"We are particularly concerned about the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," it continued, citing "credible" reports that "indicate the existence of a large network of 'political re-education' camps where over a million people have been arbitrarily detained."

The Israeli mission received a draft of the statement beforehand, but decided against supporting the initiative, according to a European diplomat.

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Asked for comment on the matter, Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by local media: “Israel expresses its concerns about the Uighurs in various diplomatic tracks.”

“One example of this was our signing onto the Canadian statement [on the Uyghurs] in June at the Human Rights Council. Our position on the issue has not changed.”

Rights groups say more than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking people have been incarcerated in internment camps across Xinjiang, with residents forced to give up religious practices and traditional activities.

Recent reports and satellite imagery also suggest that around 16,000 mosques have been systematically destroyed or damaged in the Xinjiang region by Chinese authorities.

Uyghurs have also been subjected to forced labour.