China slams damning UN rights report on Xinjiang as ‘illegal, null and void’
Beijing: Taken by surprise over the release of UN Human Rights assessment accusing China of “serious human rights violations” against Uygur Muslims in the restive Xinjiang province, Beijing on Thursday denounced it as a US-orchestrated report to contain it and termed the damning document as “illegal, null and void.”
The much-awaited report by outgoing UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who earlier visited Xinjiang after a long diplomatic tussle with Beijing, was released by her in Geneva in dramatic fashion, much to the surprise of China which had studiously opposed its release.
“The so-called assessment is orchestrated and produced by the US and some western forces. It is completely illegal and null and void,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here while slamming the report.
Bachelet, the former President of Chile, who came under immense pressure, finally brushed aside Beijing’s opposition and released the report on the last day of her office on Wednesday. She earlier also announced that she won’t be seeking another term.
The report, while falling short of terming the allegation of human rights abuse of Uygur Muslims of Xinjiang as genocide as alleged by the US and western countries, said the charges may constitute “crimes against humanity.”
It has called for an urgent international response over allegations of torture and other rights violations in Beijing’s campaign to root out terrorism in Xinjiang.
Much of the human rights allegations centred around China detaining over a million of Uygurs in detention camps.
Beijing defends its crackdown against Xinjiang, saying the move is aimed at containing the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) which is allegedly linked to radical outfits like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
China defended the camps as re-education centres to impart skill education.
China has also been accused of carrying out a campaign of “sinicization” of Islam which broadly meant bringing it in tune with the policies of the ruling Communist Party.
The 45-page report, which documented what it described as arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uygur and other predominately Muslim groups within the context of the government’s “application of counter-terrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies,” was hailed by rights groups as a groundbreaking moment in the effort to hold the Chinese government to account.
The report comes four years after a committee of UN experts called attention in August 2018 to “credible reports” that more than 1 million Uygur and other Muslim minority peoples were interned in extrajudicial camps in Xinjiang for “re-education” and indoctrination.
According to the UN report, “the described policies and practices in (the region) have transcended borders, separating families and severing human contacts, while causing particular suffering to affected Uygur, Kazakh and other predominantly Muslim minority families, exacerbated by patterns of intimidations and threats against members of the diaspora community speaking publicly.”
The UN report said China’s “anti-terrorism law system” is “deeply problematic from the perspective of international human rights norms and standards” and “has in practice led to the large-scale arbitrary deprivation of liberty” of Uygurs and other Muslim communities.
Answering a spate of questions on the UN report, Wang said it is a patchwork of disinformation that serves as a political tool for the US and other western countries to strategically use the Xinjiang issue to contain China.
Terming the content of the report as political, Wang said it violates the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights of the United Nations (OHCHR).
Wang said the OHCHR has been reduced to being the accomplice of the US and other western countries to force the developing countries to fall in line with them.
But at the same time he pointed out that “despite its illegality and zero credibility, the report did not go to the extent of to play up the allegation such a genocide, forced labour religious oppression and forced sterilisation”.
“It shows that the lies of the Century concocted by the US and other countries have already collapsed,” Wang said, adding that nearly 100 countries including several countries spoke in support of China over its policies in Xinjiang.