By Tenzin Dharpo
Uyghurs detained en-masse by China in Xinjiang, Photo- HRW
DHARAMSHALA, July 11: In the face of China’s repressive policies in Xinjiang region, 22 nations have written a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday asking Beijing to put a halt on the mass detention of the ethnic Uyghurs and allow freedom of religion, among others things.
Leading nations such as Britain, France and Germany were among 18 European countries that joined Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the call. Notable absentees who did not sign the letter include the US which earlier led the condemnation of China over its policies in Xinjiang. Also there are no Muslim majority nations including Turkey which earlier voiced objection on the matter.
The letter addressed to Commissioner Michelle Bachelet urged China to uphold its laws and international obligations and stop the arbitrary detention of the natives that, independent sources say is high as over a million people in re-education camps.
Gruesome details have emerged from within the camps; native language, customs, traditions and practice of Islam is banned. Instead, Communist ideologies are taught in mandarin, in what has been termed ‘cultural genocide’ by critics. Reports have also suggested that children as young as two years old have been separated from their families and their parents either put in prison or internment camps. From one township alone, there are 400 children reported to be taken away by the Chinese government.
John Fisher, director of Human Rights Watch’s Geneva office in a statement said, “The joint statement demonstrates that Beijing is wrong to think it can escape international scrutiny for its abuses in Xinjiang, and the pressure will only increase until these appalling abuses end.
“Governments are increasingly recognizing the suffering of millions of people in Xinjiang, with families torn apart and living in fear, and a Chinese state that believes it can commit mass violations uncontested,” he further said.
Tibetan President Dr. Lobsang Sangay, the head of the exile Tibetan government based here, earlier said that what ever is happening in Xinjiang had been previously executed and perfected in Tibet, and that the model of mass detention and cultural genocide has been applied in occupied Tibet decades ago.