Australia has joined with 22 other nations to condemn the mass detention and surveillance of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province, urging Beijing to end human rights abuses against its minority Muslim population.
A statement to the UN on Wednesday, endorsed by Australia, called on China to end its arbitrary detention of Uighurs and members of other Muslim communities. Presented by Britain’s permanent ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce, it was also backed by the US, Japan, New Zealand and a host of European nations.
The signatories expressed concern at “credible reports of mass detention; efforts to restrict cultural and religious practices; mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs; and other human rights violations and abuses in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region”.
“We call on the Chinese government to uphold its national laws and international obligations and commitments to respect human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, in Xinjiang and across China,” it read. “Furthermore, we call on the Chinese government to allow the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Procedures immediate unfettered, meaningful access to Xinjiang.”
The move came less than 24 hours after Foreign Minister Marise Payne warned that Australia would not turn a blind eye to human rights violations in China. In a speech to the US Studies Centre, Senator Payne said Australia would call out bad behaviour by other countries when it saw it.
She said Australia was unhappy with China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, where up to two million Muslims are held in “re-education” camps.
She said the government would also continue to advocate for detained Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who is being held by Beijing for alleged but unexplained spying offences.
“We must respect each other’s sovereignty but we will consistently continue to raise issues such as human rights, including with China,” Senator Payne said.
“We will do so not just because we believe individual rights should apply to all people but because we believe nations that uphold such principles domestically are more likely to co-operate in ways that promote the common good globally.”
By Ben Packham
China urges U.S., Britain to stop distorting facts on Xinjiang-related issues
BEIJING, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — China on Wednesday urged countries including the United States and Britain to stop distorting facts on Xinjiang-related issues and make real and concrete efforts to support the healthy development of the international human rights cause.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks at a press briefing when he was asked to comment on what happened during the dialogue between the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
On Oct. 29, a few Western countries including the United States and Britain delivered a common speech during the dialogue, criticizing China’s Xinjiang policy, while more than 60 others countries also made common speeches supporting China’s position on Xinjiang, praising China’s great progress in human rights protection and opposing interference in China’s domestic affairs under the name of human rights.
“The anti-China show put on by a handful of Western countries was a disgraceful failure,” Geng said.
He said the vocational and educational training institutions in Xinjiang were set up as preventive measures to combat terrorism and radicalization, which have turned the security situation around.
For three years, not a single violent or terrorist incident has taken place in Xinjiang, and the region now enjoys social stability and unity among all ethnic groups, said Geng, adding that people there are now living a happy life with a stronger sense of fulfillment and security, while their rights to life, health and development are also significantly improved.
“We urge countries like the United States and Britain to stop calling white black and standing on the opposite of facts,” Geng said.
Geng noted that in March this year, the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopted a resolution, which spoke highly of and fully recognized the efforts China has made for Chinese Muslims.
In July, ambassadors from more than 50 countries to the UN office at Geneva co-signed a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council and High Commissioner for Human Rights, praising China for its respect and protection of human rights in fighting terrorism and deradicalization.
“These events fully indicated to us what is the overwhelming opinion of the international society. Tarnishing China will not get support and is completely futile,” Geng said.
As countries like the United States and Britain have disgraceful human rights records, they have no right to judge other countries and should seriously reflect on themselves, said Geng, adding that China urges those countries to stop politicizing and using double standards on human rights issues, and stop interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs under the pretext of human rights.