Human rights groups call for UN update, action on China's Xinjiang

China called the report a “farce” and a politically motivated attempt to smear its reputation.
 Uyghur and other demonstrators hold a banner and placards as they await the arrival of Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Adelaide, Australia, on June 16, 2024. Human rights groups said on June 20 that the U.N. must act on a two-year-old report of rights violations against the Uyghurs.  VOA
Uyghur and other demonstrators hold a banner and placards as they await the arrival of Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Adelaide, Australia, on June 16, 2024. Human rights groups said on June 20 that the U.N. must act on a two-year-old report of rights violations against the Uyghurs. VOA

Human rights groups on Thursday called for the United Nations to act and provide more updates on a report published nearly two years ago about a range of rights violations in China’s remote western region of Xinjiang.

The report, issued in August 2022, found that actions taken in Xinjiang may have constituted “crimes against humanity.” It also highlighted what it called highly “credible” abuses, including “torture, forced sterilization, sexual violence and forced separation of children.”

China called the report a “farce” and a politically motivated attempt to smear its reputation.

Now, nearly two years later and with few updates, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Service for Human Rights and the World Uyghur Congress issued a statement Thursday calling for action by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk.

"The ongoing absence of public reporting by the high commissioner to follow up the atrocity crimes documented by his own office risks undermining the trust placed in his office by victims and survivors," the statement said.

Türk mentioned Xinjiang Tuesday when he presented his global updates at the 56th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. In his update, Türk said he “continued to engage with China on a range of human rights issues, including the serious concerns my office identified in the Xinjiang region.”

Rights groups, however, say that did not go far enough.

In their statement, the rights groups said Türk did not provide "any specifics about his engagement with the government, a substantive update on the situation in Xinjiang, nor an assessment of the implementation of the report recommendations by his office.”

The rights groups added, “It's up to the U.N. high commissioner to make full use of that report to improve the situation for Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang."

Rights groups have been working together since 2018 to “push the Human Rights Council and other U.N. bodies to document and respond to growing evidence of atrocity crimes in China and to disseminate these findings globally.”

On Thursday they also said that the U.N. had failed to make the report available in any language other than English, adding that they have provided their own unofficial translations in the body’s other official languages: Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish and Chinese.

Agence France-Presse provided some material that was used in this report.

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