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UN members ask China to give 'unfettered' access to Xinjiang

ANI | Updated: May 13, 2021 20:34 IST

New York [US], May 13 (ANI): A group of United Nations members has asked China to grant "immediate, meaningful and unfettered access" for the group's human rights chief to Xinjiang to inspect human rights abuses of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.
In a virtual hearing called by Britain, Germany and the United States and backed by 15 other mostly Western UN member states, China was accused by a procession of ambassadors, rights groups and academics of "systematic" persecution of minorities in the far western region, South China Morning Post reported.
"We appeal to China to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we ask China to tear down the detention camps. If you have nothing to hide, why do you not finally grant unimpeded access to the commissioner for human rights?" Christoph Heusgen, the German ambassador to the UN, asked.
The UN's special rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, said the UN had itself been "timid" in its failure to criticise the situation in Xinjiang more insistently.
"Given the scale of what we have been hearing, or the allegations that have been made, I must admit it seems very timid and I would acknowledge that seems very timid from the side of the UN not to be more vocal and assertive in trying to obtain collaboration from the government of China," he said.
"Where there's smoke, there's fire, and there's a heck of a lot of smoke right now affecting hundreds of thousands of people, most of them minorities, most of them Muslims and most of them Uygurs," Varennes added.

Meanwhile, the Turkish delegation described the situation facing Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang as "extremely worrying". It said that Ankara had raised the issue with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on his visit to the country in March, adding that it supported "immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region" for the UN human rights chief.
In February, United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet had said that Beijing was restricting basic civil and political freedoms in the name of national security and coronavirus measures.
In her address at the 46th session of the Human Rights Council, Bachelet said that activists, lawyers and human rights defenders - as well as some foreign nationals - face arbitrary criminal charges, detention or unfair trials.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community.
Early this year, the United States become the first country in the world to declare the Chinese actions in Xinjiang as "genocide". In February, both the Canadian and Dutch parliaments adopted motions recognising the Uyghur crisis as genocide. The latter became the first parliament in Europe to do so.
In April, the United Kingdom also declared China's ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang a "genocide". (ANI)