China grilled over in­tern­ment camps

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

GENEVA: China faced harsh crit­i­cism over its rights record dur­ing a re­view be­fore the United Na­tions on Tues­day, with coun­tries voic­ing alarm at its mass de­tain­ment of eth­nic Uighurs and its crack­down on civil lib­er­ties.

Dur­ing the half-day pub­lic de­bate at the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil in Geneva, a num­ber of coun­tries raised con­cerns about China’s treat­ment of eth­nic mi­nori­ties, in­clud­ing Uighurs and Ti­betans.

Out­side the UN, around 500 pro­test­ers waved ban­ners say­ing “China, stop geno­cide of Uighurs” and “Ti­bet dy­ing, China lies”, as the de­bate got un­der­way.

The Uni­ver­sal Pe­ri­odic Re­view – which all UN coun­tries must un­dergo ap­prox­i­mately ev­ery four years – came amid in­creas­ing scru­tiny over what ac­tivists de­scribe as mass po­lit­i­cal re-ed­u­ca­tion camps in China’s frac­tious Xin­jiang re­gion.

As many as one mil­lion Uighurs and other mi­nori­ties are be­ing kept in ex­tra-ju­di­cial de­ten­tion in the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to an es­ti­mate re­cently cited by an in­de­pen­dent UN panel, and re­peated dur­ing Tues­day’s de­bate.

Ac­tivists say mem­bers of China’s mi­nori­ties are held in­vol­un­tar­ily for trans­gres­sions such as wear­ing long beards and face veils.

“We are alarmed by the gov­ern­ment of China’s wors­en­ing crack­down on Uighurs, Kaza­khs, and other Mus­lims in the Xin­jiang Uighur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion,” US rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mark Cas­sayre told the coun­cil.

Wash­ing­ton, he said, would like to see China “abol­ish all forms of ar­bi­trary de­ten­tion, in­clud­ing in­tern­ment camps in Xin­jiang, and im­me­di­ately re­lease the hun­dreds of thou­sands, pos­si­bly mil­lions, of in­di­vid­u­als de­tained”.

A long line of coun­tries echoed those con­cerns.

French am­bas­sador Fran­cois Ri­vasseau asked that China “put an end to its mas­sive in­tern­ment in camps, and to in­vite the UN high com­mis­sioner for hu­man rights” to ob­serve the sit­u­a­tion.

The Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion, how­ever, re­jected a num­ber of the is­sues raised, with China’s vice for­eign min­is­ter Le Yucheng slam­ming “po­lit­i­cally driven ac­cu­sa­tions from a few coun­tries which are fraught with bi­ases”.

The del­e­ga­tion re­it­er­ated Bei­jing’s line that the se­cu­rity mea­sures were nec­es­sary to com­bat ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism, and that they did not tar­get any spe­cific eth­nic group. – AFP

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