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UN report points to human rights violations in Xinjiang, but does not mention genocide

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released this Wednesday (31) an expected report on violations in this area by Chinese authorities against Uighurs and other Muslim communities in Xinjiang, in the northwest of the country.

In the document, the OHCHR indicated that it had found that serious human rights violations were committed in Xinjiang in the context of the implementation of counterterrorism and “counter-extremism” strategies.

“The implementation of these strategies and associated policies in Xinjiang has led to interlinked patterns of severe and undue restrictions on a wide range of human rights. These patterns of restrictions are characterized by a discriminatory component, as the underlying acts often directly or indirectly affect the Uighur communities and other predominantly Muslim communities”, described the commissioner, who refused to treat these violations as genocide, contrary to what the States defended. United States and by human rights groups – the term does not appear in the report.

Prior to the OHCHR report, human rights groups and numerous reports had denounced the mass incarceration of members of the Uighur Muslim minority in the region (under the guise of fighting extremism), torture, sexual violence, executions, religious persecution and ethnic cleansing – which consisted of orchestrating the immigration of Han people, the majority in China, and the emigration of Uighurs through incarceration, thus making it difficult the perpetuation of this ethnic group, in addition to sterilizations and forced abortions and forced transfer of children.

Es if the process, in which more than 1 million Uighurs were arrested, was classified by the United States as genocide.

In the report presented this Wednesday, the OHCHR said that the Chinese government’s discriminatory policy led to to mass incarceration in the so-called vocational education and training centers (VETC) “at least in the period between 2017 and 2019”.

When she was in Xinjiang in May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, did not speak to detainees, but she said later that she had spoken to ex-detainees in other countries and family members.

The OHCHR report noted that “allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.”

“Although the information available at this stage does not allow the OHCHR to draw conclusions firm on the exact extent of such abuses, it is clear that the highly securitized and discriminatory nature of VETC facilities, together with limited access to effective resources or oversight by the authorities, provides fertile ground for such violations to occur on a large scale.” , claimed the commissioner.

This policy of detention and abuse “may constitute the practice of international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity”, the report maintained.

The The OHCHR report pointed out that even if the VETC system has been reduced or terminated, as the Chinese government claims, “the laws and policies that support it remain in force.”

“There appears to be a trend parallel to an increase in the number and duration of arrests through criminal justice processes, suggesting that the focus has shifted from detention to imprisonment, for alleged reasons of counterterrorism and ‘counter-extremism’”, highlighted the commission, which there They were also indicative of discrimination that goes beyond incarceration and includes restrictions on the freedom of religion, expression, movement and privacy of Uighurs and other minorities, imposition of policies to limit births and work schemes with the supposed objective of reducing poverty that involve coercion and ethnic and religious discrimination.

Bachelet had said that her report on the matter would be released before she leaves office this Wednesday – she will not seek a new term at the head of the governing body of United Nations. In recent weeks, she had admitted pressure not to release the document.

The report concludes with recommendations for China to release all prisoners still held, provide families with information on missing persons and carry out investigations into human rights violations in the VETC system and in other prisons, “including allegations of torture, sexual violence, ill-treatment, forced medical treatment, as well as forced labor and reports of deaths in custody”, ensuring that independent observation mechanisms are in place. .

Recommendations were also made for companies, so that they observe that the contracted products and services do not come from places where human rights violations occur, and for other countries, so that they do not send Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities back to Xinjiang and offer humanitarian aid to members of these communities who are in their territories.

China speaks of “completely manufactured lie”. each”

Before the report was released, China reiterated its argument that the allegations about Xinjiang are politically motivated.

“We made it very clear to the High Commissioner and other employees that we strongly oppose this report. We all know that the so-called Xinjiang issue is a completely fabricated politically motivated lie aimed at undermining China’s stability and obstructing its development,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said on Wednesday, who warned that the report could jeopardize relations between the UN and Beijing.

After the publication of the document, Beijing issued a statement in which it said it “firmly opposes the dissemination of the so-called ‘assessment of the human rights situation in the Uyghur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China’”.

Sophie Richardson, China director of the NGO Human Rights Watch, stated that “the United Nations Human Rights Council should use the report to launch a comprehensive investigation into the crimes of the Chinese government against humanity targeting the Uighurs and other peoples – and holding the perpetrators accountable”.

“The Chinese government has emphasized, once again, that ‘the issues are essentially related to the fight against terrorism. saw olent and separatism’ and that it is doing so ‘in accordance with the law’, which the content of the report believed to be untrue”, stated Jorge Ithallo dos Santos, president of the group Democracy Without Borders.

“DSF is very supportive of the work of the UN. And he says that if this religious minority cannot fight for their rights, the UN, DSF and the world will. Finally, the report emphasizes that States must, yes, fight terrorism and violent extremism, but firmly supported by respect for human rights”, he added.

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