Fifty-one United Nations member countries have issued a joint declaration condemning the Chinese government’s crimes against humanity committed against Uyghurs and other Turkic communities, and calling on Beijing to end its systematic human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.
The cross-regional statement, delivered to the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee by Britain’s Deputy Permanent Representative James Kariuki on October 18, said: “Members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang continue to suffer serious violations of their human rights.”
The statement quoted the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ damning August 2022 report on Xinjiang, which concluded that the abuses were so severe and widespread that they “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
The UN report corroborated the findings of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others regarding mass detention, torture, cultural persecution, forced labor, and other serious rights violations against Turkic Muslim communities in Xinjiang.
The statement’s signatories include Britain, the US, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Eswatini, Liberia, Guatemala, Paraguay, Fiji, Nauru, Palau, and others.
The statement noted that the UN high commissioner, Volker Türk, recently urged Beijing to follow the recommendations of his office’s 2022 report and take “strong remedial action,” which China has yet to do.
Human Rights Watch has urged Türk and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work together to ensure follow-up to the 2022 Xinjiang report, including continued gathering of evidence of serious abuses and reporting to member states.
As usual, China found a sympathetic delegation to issue a statement of support. This year, Pakistan read a joint statement to the Third Committee, insisting the situation in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Tibet was China’s “internal affairs” and opposing the “politicization of human rights.” China’s UN delegation said that 72 countries backed that statement, though in past years Beijing has included countries that were unaware they were listed as signatories.
UN members should use every opportunity to raise Beijing’s appalling human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and elsewhere in China. They should mobilize support for a formal UN investigation into abuses in Xinjiang. And Türk and Guterres should regularly update UN delegations on human rights in China. An update from the UN on Xinjiang is long overdue.