Over 40 countries are asking China to grant access to its Xinjiang region

Photo: Ng Han Guan / Ritzau Scanpix

In a joint statement more than 40 countries including Denmark and Sweden have called on China to allow independent observers to enter China’s Xinjiang region and investigate reports of widespread human rights violations on the Muslim Uighurs minority, media JydskeVestkysten reports.

Canada’s UN Ambassador, Leslie Norton read out the statement on Tuesday in the UN Human Rights Council and according to the total of 44 countries, the mission to Xinjiang would be led by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet who has been trying to gain access to the region since 2018.

Credible reports indicate that over one million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang. There are also reports of extensive surveillance targeting Uighurs and members of other minority groups, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedom requirements and Uighur culture, the statement said.

In the declaration, the countries also referred to problems of torture, forced sterilization, sexual violence, and separation of children from their parents in Xinjiang.

Jiang Yingfeng, a senior diplomat at China’s UN mission denied the allegations in the UN Human Rights Council and he called the statement an interference in Chinese affairs driven by “political motives”. Still, he said that China will welcome a visit from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “But instead of an investigation based on a so-called presumption of guilt, this visit will be about promoting exchange and cooperation.”

Jiang Yingfeng did not elaborate on when the visit will take place.

China has repeatedly denied allegations about being behind human rights abuses in the disputed region. In the statement on Tuesday, the 44 countries also expressed concern about China’s progress in Hong Kong and the human rights situation in Tibet.

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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