Uighurs' supporters march as Beijing faces rights review at UN

Blanche Robertson
November 9, 2018

As many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are being kept in extra-judicial detention in China's fractious far western Xinjiang region, according to estimates cited by a United Nations panel.

"The Human Rights Council must send an unequivocal message to the Chinese government that their campaign of systematic repression in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, including the arbitrary detention of up to 1 million people, must end", said Patrick Poon (潘燊昌), a China researcher at Amnesty International.

Marise Payne said she will register "serious concerns" over the huge facilities in Xinjiang, where activists say hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other mainly-Muslim minorities are detained in political re-education camps.

China is to present a report on its domestic human rights situation and on changes made since its last report in 2013, while diplomats from around the world would have the opportunity to ask questions - some of which have already been submitted.

A United Nations panel of human rights experts said on August 10 it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uighurs in China were being held in what resembles a "massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy".

In response to the "concern" raised by several Western countries during the review on the issue of China's Xinjiang, Le said that the reason Xinjiang has established the vocational education and training program is to meet the needs for fighting against terrorism.

An investigation of the AFP on more than 1,500 public documents available online was revealed in October that these centres, the number of 181 implanted in Xinjiang since 2014, bought including the use of batons, handcuffs or sprays of tear gas.

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Beijing says its "vocational training centers" in Xinjiang camps teach employment skills and legal knowledge aimed at curbing religious extremism.

In a report published past year, Human Rights Watch accused Beijing of sabotaging United Nations efforts to promote rights, maintaining that Chinese officials routinely photograph and film activists on United Nations premises, in violation of United Nations rules, and bar Chinese activists from travelling to the United Nations in Geneva. He repeated China's frequently cited claim that no terrorist attacks have occurred in the region for 21 months, and that "trainees" who were previously "controlled by extremist ideology" have since immersed themselves in cultural and athletic activities at the centers. "States need to demand the truth from China in the UN Human Rights Council review on Tuesday".

"China is willing to conduct a constructive dialogue with all parties in a spirit of open and honest", has declared on Friday to journalists a spokesman of the chinese ministry of foreign Affairs, Lu Kang. In July 2017, the dissident and Nobel Peace prize victor Liu Xiaobo died in jail of liver cancer.

That year also saw five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders disappear, before they resurfaced in mainland China.

Beijing's delegation flatly denied that there was a crackdown on civil rights in China, instead emphasising the work the country had done to reduce poverty.

"What China has achieved shows that there is more than just one path towards modernisation and every country may choose its own path of development and model of human rights protection", Le Yucheng said.

Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, told Reuters at the event: "The detention of over a million ethnic Uighurs is a tipping point for the global community".

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