UN chief Guterres urges Beijing to heed Xinjiang report recommendations

China’s UN ambassador has called claims in the report 'completely fabricated'

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed hope that 'the government of China will take on board the recommendations put forward in the assessment'. AFP
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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged China to follow recommendations set out in a new report on allegations of abuse in Xinjiang province.

The report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, “confirms what the secretary general has been saying on Xinjiang for quite some time, that human rights must be respected and that the Uighur community need to be respected”, said Mr Guterres's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.

“The secretary general very much hopes the government of China will take on board the recommendations put forward in the assessment.”

Released late on Wednesday, the 48-page report concluded that China has committed serious human rights breaches under its anti-terrorism and anti-extremism policies and calls for “urgent attention” from the UN, the world community and China to address them.

The report recommends that Beijing take “prompt steps to release all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty” in the region.

It also recommends that the Chinese government “urgently repeal all … laws, policies and practices” that discriminate against Uighurs.

Beijing quickly denounced the report.

Its diplomatic mission in Geneva said it firmly opposed the release of the UN assessment, which it said ignored human rights achievements made in Xinjiang and the damage caused by terrorism and extremism to the population.

China's diplomatic mission in Geneva said it firmly opposed the release of the UN assessment, which it said ignores human rights achievements made in Xinjiang. AP

“Based on the disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-China forces and out of the presumption of guilt, the so-called ‘assessment’ distorts China’s laws, wantonly smears and slanders China and interferes in China’s internal affairs,” the mission said.

It also shared a 121-page document from the Xinjiang provincial government that detailed the policies in the region.

“People of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are living a happy life in peace and contentment. It is the greatest human rights protection and the best human rights practice,” the mission said.

China’s UN ambassador in New York also called the accusations “a completely fabricated lie out of political motivations” and denounced the report.

But US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the report confirmed the “atrocities and human rights violations” that China “is perpetrating against Uighurs” and other minorities in Xinjiang.

Ms Bachelet had it made clear she planned to release the report, which has been in the works for more than a year, before her term ended on Wednesday.

She said her report took “considerable work and review” and she wanted to deal with input from the Chinese government last week in the spirit of constructive dialogue.

The assessment was drawn in part from interviews with former detainees and others familiar with conditions at eight alleged detention centres.

Unlike other reports by researchers and national governments, the assessment had no estimates of scale and the rights office said that it could not confirm claims that a million or more people were detained in Xinjiang.

But it said it was “reasonable to conclude that a pattern of large-scale arbitrary detention occurred” at least between 2017 and 2019.

Beijing has closed many of the camps, officially called vocational training and education centres, but there are reports alluding to hundreds of thousands of people under continued detention.

Updated: September 02, 2022, 2:36 AM