By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 17: 47 countries voiced their grave concerns over alleged human rights abuses in East Turkistan (Ch: Xinjiang) and demanded the details on the long-delayed report on the Uyghur Muslim community at the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday. The Dutch ambassador Paul Bekkers told the council, “We continue to be gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.”
The joint statement by dozens of countries pointed to the overwhelming evidence from credible sources that reported of over one million Uyghurs being arbitrarily detained in camps, to which the Beijing administration referred to as “vocational skills training centers” necessary to curb “extremism”. “There are reports of ongoing widespread surveillance, discrimination against Uighurs and other persons belonging to minorities,” he further noted.
The concerns from the coalition of nations have surfaced following the recent visit by UN rights Chief Michelle Bachelet who many say, failed to acknowledge the grievances of oppressed groups during her landmark visit after 17 years. The statement urged that the concerned nations reiterate the demand for China to immediately address these allegations and “end the arbitrary detention of Muslim Uyghurs and persons belonging to other minorities”.
Bachelet faced criticisms from both activist groups and human rights experts over failing to speak up against the Chinese regime prior and during the trip, which was called a “propaganda minefield” by many. The Tuesday meeting called for “more detailed observations, including on the restrictions the Chinese authorities imposed on the visit” by High commissioner Bachelet.
The Chinese government spokesperson responded to the statement condemning the Netherlands and other countries for “spreading lies and rumours to attack China.” “We categorically reject these allegations” spokesperson Chen Xu said angrily, calling the questioning “attempts to engage in political manipulation”. Ambassador Xu also hailed the Bachelet visit insisting that it had “enhanced her understanding of China’s path of human rights development”. He also said that the “hyped-up-so-called” Xinjiang report violated her mandate and should not be published at all.
The Uyghur Muslim community in exile has extensively spoken about the atrocities the people in East Turkestan continue to face. A BBC report published last month showed hacked files that contain over 5,000 photographs taken by the police of over 2,000 laypeople who were reportedly detained.