Uighurs. Pressure on China grows after release of UN report on Uighur crackdown

From now on, “no one can say they don’t know” what China is doing to the Uighurs in Xinjiang, title the Guardian in his editorial of Thursday, September 1, following the publication the day before of a UN report evoking possible crimes against humanity in this province in the west of the country.

“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of the Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim groups […] may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity”says this report, led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.

Reading of its 46 pagesit is not surprising that Beijing sought to block its publication”, affirms the English daily, which specifies that the report qualifies as “credible“the stories of”torture“, of “forced sterilizations” and of “sexual violence” already collected by many NGOs and journalists who have investigated on the spot. “None of this is new“, advance The Guardianbut its publication by the UN gives it a status that Beijing cannot ignore”.

Washinton “demands that the Chinese authorities be held to account”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “concerned about what he read”according to its spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, drove home the point on Thursday, calling on China to “follow recommendations” of Michelle Bachelet, that is to say to “release all individuals arbitrarily” deprived of their liberty and “urgently repeal all laws, policies and practices that discriminate against Uighurs”.

The Qatari news channel Al Jazeera enumerates other Western reactions, such as that of the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell who “underlines the serious violations of human rights”, or London which considers that this report “puts China to shame”. As for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he “demands that the Chinese authorities be held to account” and “allow unrestricted access to independent investigators in Xinjiang, Tibet, and across China”.

Al Jazeera also cites the contrasting opinions of Uyghur officials in exile. If the head of the NGO East Turkestan New Generation Movement, Abdusselam Teklimakan, regrets that the report is “arrived late” and considers himself “disappointed” that “humanity has watched their nation be destroyed for years”, this is not the opinion of Zumret Dawut, who has “burst into tears when the report came out”. “I felt there was justice, that there were people who cared about me in this world”said this survivor of repression, now exiled in the United States.

On the other hand, the Qatari media does not report any official reaction in the Muslim world. And for good reason: there was none. “In the context of the Russian war against Ukraine and the formation of increasingly antagonistic ideological blocs, the Chinese authorities could step up the fight against what they call “the colonial legacy”, including within the UN. . She will not be isolated in this way.”, analyzes the editorialist of the Swiss daily Time, Frederic Koller. But “by exposing Beijing’s arbitrariness in Xinjiang, the UN report speaks of another colonialism […]. The Muslim world will no longer be able to look away.”, he concludes, optimistic but for the moment belied by the facts.

“Keep up the pressure” on China

Logically, China for its part denounced the damning 46 pages, calling them “mass of disinformation” and “a political tool in the service of the strategy of the United States and the West, which aims to use Xinjiang to hinder [le développement] from China”, reports the Beijing correspondent of the Singapore English-language daily, the Straits Times.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin castigated a “totally illegal and invalid assessment report, planned and fabricated by the United States and certain Western forces”. Very factual, the journalist specifies that there was “no mention of the report, or its rebuttal, in state media” Chinese.

These answers are “extremely weak”, according to the China specialist of Amnesty International French-speaking Belgium, Philippe Givron. Interviewed by the Belgian daily The eveningthe activist argues among other things that the Chinese accusation of interference in its internal affairs is “fundamentally false since, by definition, international law crosses borders. It is provided for in the Charter [des Nations unies] and in the various treaties signed by China”.

If he has no illusions about the will of the Chinese leaders not to “not lose face” in “continuing to fight against this report“, however, he hopes that “on the merits, they will perhaps soften this policy”. Listing some clues, like “a drop in the rate of entry into the camps and the closure of certain infrastructures”, as well as the recent development “tools aimed at imposing, in the long term, a certain social responsibility on its companies”, Philippe Givron therefore calls for “keep up the pressure” on the Chinese diet.

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Uighurs. Pressure on China grows after release of UN report on Uighur crackdown

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