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UN HRC Renews Call for China to Release Detained Uyghurs

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UN HRC Renews Call for China to Release Detained Uyghurs

The U.N. human rights office is renewing its call for China to release all Uyghurs and other Muslim communities arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in the Xinjiang region. The action follows the agency’s release of a groundbreaking report on the forced incarceration of more than a million Uyghurs and others in so-called vocational centers.

Despite China’s angry response to the report, the U.N. human rights office says relations with China remain intact. Agency spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani confirms several interactions have occurred between China and Michelle Bachelet before she stepped down as high commissioner August 31.

“There is contact, and we hope that the contact will remain, and the engagement will remain as well…We are constantly under pressure from all sides. But in response to your specific question, no, there has not been pressure following the issuing of the report to do or not do anything…And now, so that the assessment is out, we hope to carry forward with much more renewed energy.”

The 45-page report, which was issued just minutes before the high commissioner left office, cites a breathtaking number of serious human rights violations by the Chinese government against Uyghurs. The report contains accounts by victims of arbitrary detention, torture, cultural persecution, forced labor, and other abuses, which may amount to crimes against humanity.

China has fiercely denied the charges, calling the report invalid and illegal.

Bachelet’s report contains a long list of recommendations. Shamdasani says the U.N. rights office stands ready to support China in addressing the issues raised.

“Among the recommendations, we call on the government to urgently clarify the whereabouts of the individuals whose families have been seeking information about their loved ones in Xinjiang, including by providing details of their exact location, establishing safe channels of communication and travel, enabling families to reunite.”

Human rights organizations are calling for the report to be formally submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which begins a new monthlong session September 12. They say governments at the council should establish an independent investigation into alleged abuse in Xinjiang and hold China accountable for its crimes.

  • VOA report