China is committing “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang

China is committing “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang
China is committing “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang

Crimes against humanity may have been committed in its Xinjiang autonomous region Chinaestimated the United Nations Organization in his report made public on the night of Wednesday to Thursday.

“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detentions of members of the Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities (…) may mean that international crimes, especially crimes against humanity, have been committed,” the report concludes.

The United Nations has called on the international community to take urgent action on allegations of torture and sexual violence in China’s Xinjiang region, which it describes as “credible”.

“Allegations of repeated practices of torture or ill-treatment, especially forced medical treatment, as well as allegations of sexual and gender-based violence, appear credible,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in its report.

Michelle Bachelet, whose term as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights ended on Monday, has fended off criticism that she has been too condescending to Beijing on human rights, stressing that dialogue “does not mean closing the eyes”.

“Engaging in dialogue and trying to understand does not mean we show tolerance, look away or turn a blind eye. Even less that we cannot speak frankly,” said Ms. Bachelet, who kept in extremis her promise to make public by August 31 her agency’s report on allegations of human rights abuses in the Xinjiang autonomous region by the authorities. of China.

Charges of “genocide”

At first glance, the word genocide does not appear in the UN text. A charge leveled at Beijing by the American government, but also by the French National Assembly, as well as the national delegations of Great Britain, the Netherlands and Canada.

Xinjiang and other provinces in China have experienced in recent decades, especially in the period from 2009 to 2014, attacks attributed to Islamist or Uyghur separatists.

For years, the area has been under strict surveillance: cameras are everywhere, buildings have security systems, the armed forces are highly visible, passports are restricted.

Western studies, based on translations of government documents, victim testimonies and statistical inferences, accuse Beijing of imprisoning at least one million people, mostly Uyghurs, in “camps”, of “forced” sterilizations and abortions, of imposing “forced labour” on minorities.

The UN does not confirm this figure. He notes, however, that a “large percentage” of members of the Uyghur minority and other mainly Muslim minorities were imprisoned.

China denies the accusations. He asserts that the “camps” were actually “vocational training centers” intended to wean residents away from religious extremism and have now been closed.

Speaking before the text was released, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Zhang Jun, pointed out that Beijing had repeatedly objected to its content and that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should not interfere in the country’s internal affairs. of.

“We all know (…) that the so-called Xinjiang issue is a completely fabricated lie with political motives and aimed at undermining China’s stability and hindering China’s development,” Mr. Zhang argued while speaking to reporters yesterday. “We don’t think it will do anyone any good, it will just undermine the cooperation between the United Nations and a member state,” he warned.

Michelle Bachelet had been negotiating with Beijing for months over her visit to Xinjiang earlier this year. He did not criticize the Chinese authorities on the visit, for which he was criticized by NGOs. He dismissed the criticism, arguing that it ensured unhindered access.

“Frankly, publicizing her as she leaves detracts from the report,” said HRW’s Kenneth Roth. “He doesn’t do anything for her, he throws her in the wastebasket and leaves office,” he added.

Ms Bachelet, 70, assumed leadership of the High Commissioner in 2018. She did not seek a second term in office. The former president of Chile plans to return to her homeland, to retire from politics.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has not yet chosen his or her successor.

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