UN report accuses China of ‘crimes against humanity’
The United Nations’ human rights watchdog has issued a report accusing China of possible “crimes against humanity” in Xinjiang province, claiming Beijing has targeted Uyghur Muslims with arbitrary arrests and even torture. The Chinese government has vocally denied the charges, however.
The UN’s Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released the 48-page assessment on Wednesday, just minutes before the office’s top official, Michelle Bachelet, ended her term at the agency. The report alleged that Beijing has committed “serious human rights violations” against the Uyghur ethnic group in Xinjiang, citing interviews with 26 former detainees at facilities around the province, as well as information gathered by Bachelet during a six-day visit to China earlier this year.
“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups… may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” the report concluded, also alleging “undue restrictions on religious identity and expression, as well as the rights to privacy and movement” in Xinjiang.
China, which has previously dismissed such charges as the “lies of the century,” swiftly responded to the UN document, issuing a lengthy reply rebutting various claims made in the report.
“This so-called ‘assessment’ runs counter to the mandate of the OHCHR, and ignores the human rights achievements made together by people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and the devastating damage caused by terrorism and extremism,” China’s UN mission said, adding that the report “distorts China’s laws and policies, wantonly smears and slanders China, and interferes in China’s internal affairs.”
The government went on to reject the UN’s claims as “disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-China forces,” stressing that it has “taken actions to fight terrorism and extremism in accordance with the law” in Xinjiang. While it said terrorism was once “rampant” in the region, citizens are now “living a happy life in peace and contentment” thanks to the anti-extremism initiatives.
Prior to the latest OHCHR assessment, the US similarly accused China of grave abuses against Muslim minorities last year, with the State Department going as far as to claim Beijing had committed “genocide” in Xinjiang. China also rejected that charge at the time, saying it was “simply a lie” while arguing its policies in the region had been successful in stopping “terrorism and extremism.”