UN and China Present Conflicting Reports on Uyghurs in Xinjiang | News

The United Nations human rights office has released a long-delayed and damning report on the conditions of the ethnic Uyghur (also spelled as Uyghur) minority in China’s northwest Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

The report details serious human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and says such treatment by China could constitute “crimes against humanity.”

The 45-page report released Wednesday by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) revealed that serious violations have been committed in Xinjiang as part of China’s implementation of measures against ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’.

China called the UN report a “farce”.

Defending its policy towards the Uighurs, China’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva attached a 131-page response document (PDF).

Chinese and UN reports on Xinjiang and the treatment of Uyghurs are diametrically opposed in their views of the situation.

Here are some of the UN’s key findings along with China’s opposing views on life in Xinjiang.

“Vocational training” or mass detention?

Beijing has enforced tough security measures in Xinjiang in recent years in what it says are efforts to combat separatism and religious extremism.

As part of these operations, Beijing has been accused of confining more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities to a network of detention centers across Xinjiang.

According to the UN report, China’s anti-terrorism laws have led to the arbitrary detention – on a large scale – of Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim communities through so-called “Vocational Education and Training Centers” ( VETC) – facilities where individuals are sent for ‘de-radicalisation’ and ‘re-education’.

The UN said there were credible allegations of torture, ill-treatment and poor conditions in VETCs and other facilities, as well as forced medical treatment and incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.

“The abuses in the VETC and other detention centers are set in the context of broader discrimination against members of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities based on perceived security threats,” he said. said the UN.

The UN also called on China to arbitrarily release all those arbitrarily detained in the VETC, prisons and other detention sites, and to report on the “whereabouts” of people whose families are seeking answers about their whereabouts. location, including giving them access to communication and travel. that they can find each other.

China must also investigate allegations of human rights violations at VETC facilities “including allegations of torture, sexual violence, ill-treatment, forced medical treatment, as well as forced labor and information reporting death in custody”.

Although the Chinese government says the scope of the VETC system has been significantly reduced or eliminated entirely, the legal frameworks and policies that allowed for the arbitrary and mass detention of the Uyghur minority remain in place, the UN said.

“Psychological correction”

China says the implementation of vocational training in Xinjiang has been done “in strict accordance with laws” and under “strict legal control”.

Courses at vocational training centers include standard spoken and written Chinese, as well as law and vocational skills. The training focused on “deradicalization” and “psychological correction and behavioral intervention to help trainees change their mindset, reintegrate into society, and rejoin their families.”

“Basically, education and training centers are schools in nature,” said the Chinese document released in response to the UN report.

“These are not detention camps,” the report said, adding that claims of “trainees” “disappearing” or “forcibly missing” were “pure fabrications.”

According to China, VETC trainees enjoy personal freedoms of movement and correspondence. Trainees return home regularly and can ask to leave the centers to take care of their personal affairs.

religious persecution

State policies in Xinjiang have also imposed severe restrictions on Uyghur religious identity and expression, according to the UN, as well as the right to privacy, freedom of movement and violations of reproductive rights. through discriminatory family planning and birth control policies.

Elements of coercion and discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds were also evident in work and employment programs meant to reduce poverty and prevent “extremism”, according to the UN.

China says VETCs respect freedom of religious belief, customs, traditions and that trainees can use their minority spoken and written languages.

“The centers fully respect the cultural needs of the trainees,” according to the Chinese report.

However, the report also notes that Chinese regulations on religious affairs prohibit holding or organizing religious activities at the centers.

The report stresses that the VETCs are not “concentration camps”, and that “there were no human rights violations in these centres”.

Trainees are indeed covered by pension and medical insurance and benefit from free health checks, according to the report.

“In Xinjiang, Uyghurs and people of all ethnic groups fully enjoy the right to freedom of religious belief,” and “normal religious activities according to law” are protected.

Xinjiang’s “education and training” policies, according to China, are a “concrete example of China’s efforts to implement UN plans of action as well as international initiatives and concepts to combat terrorism and deradicalization”.

The training of Islamic scholars “has been improved” and investments in the Xinjiang Islamic School have been made.

Mass surveillance

Surveillance of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang, according to the UN report, must not infringe on the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.

The UN has also called on China to clarify reports of destruction of mosques, religious shrines and cemeteries – and to suspend such activities in the meantime.

China’s report says the installation of security cameras in rural and urban public places in Xinjiang is in line with established international practices and the measure is not designed to target any particular ethnic group.

The report compares the practice in Xinjiang with the US and UK and describes China’s criticism of surveillance as “naked double standards”.

‘A happy life’

China said it opposed the release of the UN report which “ignores the human rights achievements” of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

China has pursued a “people-centered approach” in its policies and embarked on a human rights development plan that aligns with “trends of the times and suits the national condition of China “.

China “affirms that living a happy life is the first human right”.

“In summary, respecting and protecting human rights is a basic principle enshrined in China’s Constitution,” the Chinese report said.

Anti-China forces in the United States and the West simply claimed to care about human rights, but used the Uyghur issue as a means to “destabilize Xinjiang and suppress China”.

“Such despicable plots are doomed to failure,” the report said.

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