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Calls grow at UN for unfettered access to China's Xinjiang province

ANI | Updated: May 14, 2021 12:51 IST

New York [US], May 14 (ANI): Several western countries and human rights organizations have yet again called on China to allow the UN human rights chief unobstructed access to the Xinjiang province to probe the situation of ethnic minorities in the northwest region of the country.
Even after Beijing had lobbied member states to stay away from the event, a meeting was held virtually on May 12, co-sponsored by the civil society groups along with at least 18 countries led by Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
"We are here ... to ask China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to the U.N. high commissioner for human rights and her office," said Britain's UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN event.
According to the Voice of America (VOA), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has been pressing Beijing to allow her to visit Xinjiang for some time to investigate the situation of the Uyghurs. But the visit has failed to materialize.
During Wednesday's event, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield had said, "There are incredible reports, and credible reports, that many Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities - who only wish to practice basic freedoms of religion, belief, expression and movement - are being forced to work until they drop, manufacturing clothes and goods at the behest of the state."

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that delegations should urge senior UN officials to press ahead with an investigation of mass detention, cultural persecution, and other serious abuses with or without access to China's northwest region of Xinjiang.
Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch said that Beijing for years has tried to cow the United Nations into silence about the horrific abuses in Xinjiang.
"For years, Chinese officials have tried to cow UN member states into silence about the horrific abuses the authorities are inflicting on Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang," said Roth.
"There is extraordinary momentum as governments around the world seek to hold the Chinese government accountable for human rights violations. The UN's leadership should follow their example, condemn China's massive abuses, and publicly report on the rights situation in Xinjiang."
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims. However, Beijing continues to deny all accusations and evidence. Several countries including the US and the UK have described the situation in Xinjiang as genocide, after reports of forced sterilisations and forced labour. (ANI)