China is reportedly facing a collective response from member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) after the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) concluded that Beijing has committed “serious human rights violations” against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
The violations, which are seen as potential crimes against humanity, are detailed in a long-awaited report released on Aug. 31. Diplomats from three countries and a rights expert previously accused China of working to block its publication.
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) August 31, 2022
Based on a “rigorous review” of documents available to the OHCHR, the 48-page assessment sheds light on allegations regarding China’s imprisonment and mistreatment of Uyghurs in so-called “Vocational Education and Training Centers,” regulation of religious expression, invasive surveillance practices, forced birth control and forced labor policies. Such claims are not entirely new, having been exposed by other entities in recent years, including a hacking of Xinjiang police documents.
In response to the report, multiple countries in the 47-member HRC have been considering taking action against China, according to Reuters. The debate reportedly intensified as the council began a new term on Monday.
“If the majority decide it is not worth acting after the violations denounced in the [China] report, it would mean that the universalist vision of human rights is at stake and the legal order would be weakened,” one Western diplomat told Reuters.
Another warned, “There's a cost of inaction, a cost of action and a cost of a failed attempt to act.”
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China, for its part, has consistently rejected allegations of human rights abuses. Hours after the latest report was published, its Geneva envoy described the paper as a completely “politicized document that disregards facts, and reveals explicitly the attempt of some Western countries and anti-China forces to use human rights as a political tool.”
The HRC session, which lasts until Oct. 4, currently does not include Xinjiang in the agenda. This means one of its 47 member states must propose its discussion.
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