UN Continues Inaction on China’s Uyghur Genocide

Despite growing evidence of atrocities, the response from the United Nations remains woefully inadequate. For years, Uyghur groups have been calling on the U.N. to take decisive action. However, on Friday, U.N. officials denied accusations that they have done too little to address the severe human rights violations in the Uyghur homeland by the Chinese government.This denial came just a day after leading campaigners demanded more substantial measures.

On Thursday, various rights groups urged U.N. rights chief Volker Turk to act on the explosive 2022 report detailing violations against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. The report, authored by Turk’s predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, as High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted potential “crimes against humanity” in Uyghur homeland, officially Xinjiang. It contained “credible” allegations of widespread torture, arbitrary detention, and violations of religious and reproductive rights against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups—allegations that China has vehemently dismissed.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Service for Human Rights, and the World Uyghur Congress issued a joint call to action. They warned that the ongoing absence of public reporting by the high commissioner to follow up on the documented atrocity crimes risks undermining the trust placed in his office by victims and survivors.

Responding to these claims, a spokesperson for the U.N.’s rights office acknowledged the concerns regarding Uyghurs, specifically reports of arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and discrimination based on religion and ethnicity faced by the Uyghurs. Liz Throssell, speaking to AFP, stated that the UNHCHR is engaging with China on a range of human rights issues, including follow-up to the report. During a recent visit, officials emphasized the adverse impacts of national security and counterterrorism laws, family separation, and the lack of transparency on missing persons, urging China to comply with international law.

Bachelet’s report accused Chinese authorities of abuses, including forcibly sterilizing women, mass detentions, and forced labor. Beijing argues that its approach is necessary to combat terrorism, defending its network of so-called “vocational training centers” as a means to counter extremism and improve education levels.


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