The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has just published a report on the Uighur situation in China, which asserts that the CCP has committed “several” violations against their fundamental rights and those of other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

The 48-page report was released on August 31 by U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, just hours before her term was due to expire and just over three months after her controversial visit to the conflict zone.

Bachelet has been heavily criticized for her “soft” stance on the CCP and for her speeches apparently downplaying human rights abuses by it.

What does the report say?

The report concludes that the Chinese communist regime may have committed crimes against humanity against the Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities by implementing policies that have involved mass arbitrary detentions and other serious human rights violations.

Regarding the allegations that prompted the original investigation, the report asserts: “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.”

The extent of arbitrary detentions against Uighurs and others, in the context of restrictions and more general deprivation of fundamental rights, “may amount to international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”

The report stresses that the violations have occurred in the context of what the Chinese regime calls “persecution against terrorists” found among the Uighur minority, with a counter-extremism strategy involving the use of so-called vocational education and training centers or re-education camps.

U.N. investigators reviewed documents used as evidence related to the allegations, paying particular attention to the CCP’s own laws, policies, data, and statements. 

Allegations of serious human rights violations by the CCP against Uighurs and other groups first came to the attention of the U.N. in 2017. Since then evidence of various crimes were published around the world and so far there has been no firm position from the UN.

As a result, the report determines that in the so-called vocational education and training centers in China between 2017 and 2019, the regime committed acts of torture, murder, and other violations of the fundamental rights of human beings.

The report also accused the CCP of using a “system of anti-terrorism laws” including national security regulations that when applied discriminate against Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities, which consequently led to “serious human rights violations.”

The U.N. assessment confirms the accusations of several Western governments and independent human rights groups, although it stopped short of accusing the CCP of committing genocide against the Uighurs, as did other countries, including Canada and the United States.

UN recommendations

The report sets out a series of recommendations addressed to the Chinese communist leaders, in order to get in tune with the universal rights that the body claims to promote. 

First, it recommends that CCP authorities take immediate steps to release everyone arbitrarily deprived of their liberty and inform the families of the missing in Xinjiang of their whereabouts, establish secure channels of communication between them and allow free mobility in order to reunite families.

Regarding a Chinese legal system that endorses persecution, it was recommended that the regulations associated with national security and minority rights be reviewed, especially with regard to the Xinjiang region where most members of the Uighur minority are located.

Criticism of the U.N. investigation in Xinjiang

After several years of saying there could possibly be a U.N. visit to China to investigate well-founded allegations of serious human rights violations, it was finally made official in May 2022. Bachelet, chaired the delegation. 

The visit was strongly criticized by human rights groups around the world. They claimed that Bachelet missed a historic opportunity to carry out a proper investigation to report with certainty on the validity of the allegations. Instead, she was accused of playing politics with regime authorities and even making propaganda that benefited the regime.

Among those who criticized the visit was Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, who declared at a press conference that Bachelet’s trip to China was an “absolute disaster.” 

Bachelet was also criticized for having “adopted Beijing’s rhetoric,” so much so that she referred to the illegal prisons as “educational and vocational training centers,” as the regime itself does, instead of what they are: “concentration camps,” said Roth.

In a tweet posted after the China tour, following the barrage of criticism , the UN human rights chief announced her decision to resign citing “personal reasons.”

Reaction of the Chinese regime to the UN report

Although the report was nowhere near as devastating as many human rights representatives had hoped, the CCP did not let any time pass to issue criticism of the allegations.

In a lengthy response, CCP authorities published their displeasure over the report saying that “the accusation that its policy is ‘based on discrimination’ is groundless.”

Regarding the concentration camps where Uighurs and members of other religious and spiritual minorities such as Falun Dafa practitioners are known to be held, the CCP responded that they are “learning facilities established in accordance with law intended for de-radicalization” and not “concentration camps.”

Meanwhile, at least 1 million Uighur citizens continue to be detained by the communist regime. The CCP as expected, despite the large amount of available evidence and the testimonies validating the accusations, denied absolutely all the facts in a new act of absurd denial.

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