UN points to possible crimes against humanity by Chinese government in Xinjiang

UN calls on China to take urgent steps to end human rights violations

Beijing points out that the document is based on “lies fabricated by anti-China forces.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has released on Wednesday a long-awaited report on alleged violations allegedly committed by the Chinese government against the Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region, a week after she acknowledged pressure from Beijing to prevent the publication of the document.

In its 48 pages, the UN report underlines the “credible” evidence of human rights violations that China has allegedly carried out in Xinjiang against the Muslim minority.

In particular, this report — which has been three years in the making –, asserts that “serious Human Rights violations” would have been committed in the context of the implementation of anti-terrorism and counter-“extremism” strategies adopted by the Chinese government in 2014.

“The implementation of these strategies and associated policies in the Xinjiang special administrative region has resulted in.
severe and undue restrictions on a wide range of Human Rights,” reads the document shared by Bachelet.

“These patterns of restrictions are characterized by a discriminatory component, as the underlying acts often directly or indirectly affect Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim communities,” it adds.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has described Chinese counter-terrorism strategies in the region as “deeply problematic” from the point of view of international standards, as it would contain “vague, broad and open-ended concepts that leave a great deal of discretion to officials to interpret and apply broad powers of investigation prevention and coercion.”

Also, “in a context of limited safeguards and little independent oversight,” such a framework would have led in practice to
to the large-scale arbitrary deprivation of liberty of members of the Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim communities in Xinjiang in VETCs (so-called vocational education and training centers).

The VETCs, detention centers where the Chinese regime “re-educates” Uyghurs, would exemplify “a system of arbitrary and patterned detention and abuse,” the report said.

“The treatment of persons held in the so-called VETC system is equally troubling. Allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are reports of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence,” it wields.

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The UN document also denounces violations of reproductive rights through discriminatory enforcement and forcible enforcement of family planning and birth control policies.

Restrictions would also have been carried out on
religious identity and expression, as well as the right to privacy and freedom of movement.

“Likewise, there is evidence that work and employment schemes with purported poverty alleviation and “extremism” prevention purposes, including those related to the VET system, may involve elements of coercion and discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds,” the report adds.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on China to act urgently to release “all persons arbitrarily deprived of their liberty” in Xinjiang, whether in vocational training centers, prisons or other detention facilities.

It has also demanded that he clarify the whereabouts of people whose families have been requesting information, including providing details about their loved ones in the special administrative region.

“(The UN calls on China to) undertake a comprehensive review of the legal framework governing national security, counter-terrorism and minority rights in the Xinjiang special administrative region to ensure compliance with binding international human rights law,” wields the brief submitted by Bachelet.

Nevertheless, the United Nations has called for an investigation “without delay” into allegations of human rights violations in detention centers, including allegations of torture, sexual violence, ill-treatment, forced medical treatment, as well as forced labor and reports of deaths in custody.


A week before the publication of the report, the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva issued a statement shared Wednesday by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in which the Chinese side “firmly” opposed the publication of the report issued by Bachelet.

“This so-called ‘assessment’ is contrary to the High Commissioner’s mandate and ignores the human rights achievements jointly made by people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang and the devastating damage caused by terrorism
and extremism to people of all ethnic groups in the region,” the Chinese statement reads.

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It has thus accused the report of being based on “disinformation and lies fabricated by anti-Chinese forces,” and stressed an alleged lack of presumption of innocence.

“The so-called ‘assessment’ distorts China’s laws and policies, gratuitously defames and slanders China, and meddles in China’s internal affairs, which violates the principles of dialogue, cooperation, and non-politicization (…) and also undermines the
credibility of the High Commissioner,” the Chinese authorities added.

This report has been published a week after Bachelet denounced pressures for the imminent publication of the document, even receiving a letter signed by 40 countries and whose name the High Commissioner did not want to reveal.

“I have been under tremendous pressure. But I will not withhold publication because of it,” Bachelet explained, adding that her office is working to have the text completed by the end of August, as it finally has been.

Bachelet visited Xinjiang and other Chinese regions last May. During the visit, she refrained from criticizing Beijing’s policies in the region, which generated criticism from many countries for her ambiguity regarding human rights violations in the region.

The UN rapporteur Tomoya Obokata considered in August “reasonable” the denunciations of international organizations on forced labor and repression against ethnic minorities in the Asian giant.

Obokata explained that it was “reasonable” to conclude that among Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities, episodes of forced labor in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing have been repeatedly recorded.

The Chinese authorities have implemented a series of measures in the Xinjiang region that have caused friction between the Asian giant and the international community, especially the United States, which has even accused Beijing of committing human rights violations and even genocide against the Uyghur population.

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