By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 24: The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday demanded China to allow independent rights observers to access Xinjiang province to probe abuses. “Across the world, in a major health crisis, human rights and democracy are facing serious threats,” he said at a UN Security Council meeting.
The EU chief remarked that COVID-19 has accelerated the erosion of the democratic fabric as governments censor journalists, manipulate information, attack human rights defenders and erode women’s rights. “I want to reiterate the European Union’s call on China to comply with its obligations on the national and international law to respect and protect human rights including the rights of persons belonging to minorities in Xinjiang, in Tibet and in Inner Mongolia,” Borrell said.
The EU chief stressed that China should allow “meaningful access” to Xinjiang for independent observers including High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, adding that it is of utmost importance to enable “an independent impartial and transparent assessment of the grave concerns that the international community has.” Borrell urged the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to respect fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law in Hong Kong amid the imposition of the draconian National Security Law.
China continues to crackdown on the Uyghur Muslim population by sending them to mass detention camps, opposing religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo forceful re-education. However, Beijing administration has vehemently denied that it has engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs.
The EU has also faced criticism from human rights groups as it made a major investment deal with China last December undermining the plight of the Uyghurs. Borrell’s comments follow a vote in the Canadian parliament on Monday that declared China’s persecution of the Uyghur minority population a ‘genocide’. The motion was unanimously passed (266 to 0), supported by all opposition parties and a handful of lawmakers from the governing Liberal Party.