UN must act on abuses in China's Xinjiang: rights groups

UN must act on abuses in China's Xinjiang: rights groups
Rights groups urged the UN to act nearly two years after a report detailed numerous violations in China's Xinjiang region.
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Activists from Amnesty International hold placards as they march during a demonstration in support of the Uyghurs, on the sidelines of the Chinese President's two-day state visit in France, in Toulouse, south-western France, on May 6, 2024. [Getty]

Rights groups called Thursday on the UN to take action nearly two years after the publication of a report detailing a litany of violations in China's Xinjiang region.

UN rights chief "Volker Turk should provide a public update of measures taken by the Chinese government and by his office to address the human rights situation in Xinjiang", four leading rights organisations said in a statement.

"The ongoing absence of public reporting by the high commissioner to follow-up the atrocity crimes documented by his own office, risks undermining the trust placed in his office by victims and survivors," warned Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Service for Human Rights, and the World Uyghur Congress.

The comments came nearly two years after Turk's predecessor Michelle Bachelet published the report in August 2022, citing possible "crimes against humanity" in Xinjiang.

It detailed a string of violations against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, urging the world to pay "urgent attention" to the rights situation in the region.

The report -- harshly criticised by Beijing -- highlighted "credible" allegations of widespread torture, arbitrary detention and violations of religious and reproductive rights.

The report "was a landmark moment for highlighting the gravity of human rights violations in Xinjiang," Elaine Pearson, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement.

"Now it's up to the UN high commissioner to make full use of that report to improve the situation for Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang."

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The rights groups said that Turk had vowed to continue to "engage" with the Chinese government on rights issues, including in Xinjiang, but that he had never provided "any specifics about his engagement with the government, a substantive update on the situation in Xinjiang, nor an assessment of the implementation of the report recommendations by his office".

In the meantime, Beijing had "continued to arbitrarily imprison hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs" as part of its ongoing crackdown, they said.

"Nearly two years on, it is imperative that he and his Office provide details on their efforts to prevent, and seek accountability for, crimes against humanity and other human rights violations and abuses," they said.

The rights groups also said the UN had also failed to make the report accessible by publishing it in English only.

On Thursday, they presented their own unofficial translations into the remaining five official UN languages: Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish, and Chinese.