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A group of United Nations operatives called on China to grant “immediate, meaningful and unhindered access” to Xinjiang for the group’s human rights chief to inspect alleged abuses by Uighurs and other Muslim minorities. In a virtual hearing convened by Britain, Germany and the United States and supported by 15 other mostly Western UN member states, China was accused by a retinue of ambassadors, of rights groups and academics “systematic” persecution of minorities in the far west. China has also been accused of using its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council – as well as its growing economic clout – to block efforts to investigate the events in Xinjiang. Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new curated content platform with explanations, FAQs, analysis and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team. “We call on China to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and we call on China to demolish the detention camps. If you have nothing to hide, why don’t you finally grant unimpeded access to the Commissioner for Human Rights? Asked Christoph Heusgen, the German ambassador to the UN. The UN special rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, said the UN itself had been “timid” in its inability to criticize the situation in Xinjiang more emphatically. “Considering the magnitude of what we have heard, or the allegations that have been made, I have to admit it sounds very timid and I admit it sounds very timid on the UN side not to be more vocal. and more assertive in trying to get the collaboration of the Chinese government, ”he said. “Where there is smoke, there is fire, and there is a tremendous amount of smoke right now affecting hundreds of thousands of people, mostly minorities, most Muslims and most Uighurs. Added Varennes. The Turkish delegation called the situation of Turkish Muslims in Xinjiang “extremely worrying,” saying Ankara raised the issue with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his visit to the country in March, adding that it supported “immediate, meaningful and unhindered access.” to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region ”for the UN human rights chief. In a strongly worded unconventional intervention, Guo Jiakun, member of the Chinese UN delegation, denounced the “lies of the century” and reiterated Beijing’s consistent position that no human rights violation has occurred. place in Xinjiang. While speaking, someone held a cell phone to the camera and released a video of a former US military officer claiming the West was seeking to use the unrest in Xinjiang to destabilize the Chinese central government. . The clip, which has gone viral on the Chinese internet, shows Lawrence Wilkerson – who was Colin Powell’s chief of staff when he was US Secretary of State – addressing a 2018 conference in Washington by conservative Ron Paul Institute, claiming that the Central Intelligence Agency would mount an operation in China using Uighurs in Xinjiang. Chinese state media claim Xinjiang conspiracy hidden in video “So the truth is it’s not about human rights in Xinjiang, it’s about using Xinjiang as a political tool to contain China, “Guo said, adding that the allegations of genocide and forced labor are” lies of the century, which never happened, and it never will happen in China. ” welcome everyone to visit Xinjiang, but we oppose any kind of investigation based on lies and with the presumption of guilt, “he added. UN Michelle Bachelet is in talks on a visit to Xinjiang, but no human rights commissioner has visited the country since September 2005. A planned visit to the region by EU ambassadors in March has blocked their request for access to Ilham Tohti, the imprisoned Uighur scholar.Reuters reported the week The latest Chinese UN delegation urged members not to attend the hearing, saying, “We ask your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event.” But China was largely overwhelmed by number at the hearing, after diplomats from countries including Australia, Denmark, France and Slovakia all issued statements condemning Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang and calling for an independent inspection of the situation. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, argued that there were “credible reports that many Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities who wish only to practice fundamental freedom of religion, of belief, expression and movement are forced to work they give up, manufacture clothes and goods at the request of the state ”. Xinjiang has become a major geopolitical bone of contention between China and the West. In March, Britain, Canada, the European Union and the United States coordinated sanctions against Chinese officials and an entity for their role in the alleged abuses; Beijing immediately followed with retaliation against a host of European elected officials, academics and ambassadors. The tit-for-tat sanction has raised questions about the completion of a broad EU-China investment deal, concluded at the end of 2020 but which has yet to be ratified by the European Parliament. Last year, the US government, then headed by Donald Trump, became the first to call Xinjiang’s collective action program “genocide”. Joe Biden’s administration has maintained this position. The parliaments of Britain, Canada and the Netherlands have also called the abuses in Xinjiang genocide, but their respective governments have not endorsed the positions. Human rights groups and academics speaking at Wednesday’s hearing said without access to Xinjiang, it was difficult to determine the conditions of the genocide, but urged governments not to downplay less serious “crimes against humanity”. “What is happening in Xinjiang is clearly an example of crimes against humanity, which is very serious. There is this tendency to think that if you don’t call it genocide, it’s not really bad, it’s wrong. You know, crimes against humanity are horrible, ”said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. Roth said the UN should explore “alternative avenues to justice” that could circumvent China’s use of its Security Council veto. Human rights controversy sharpens China-West relations China strikes as G7 criticizes Beijing for human rights, says South China Morning Post’s Taiwan download our mobile app. Copyright 2021.