Switzerland supports UN-led Xinjiang investigation

Brunilde Fioravanti
Giugno 23, 2021

Canada had urged China to make its western Xinjiang region fully accessible to independent observers on behalf of 40 other countries within the UN's top human rights body, echoing concerns over vocational training centers where Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities had been sent. Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uyghurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uyghur culture.

Bachelet is under growing pressure from Western states to secure unfettered access to Xinjiang, where activists say more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been held in camps, some of them mistreated or subject to forced labour.

"I continue to discuss with China modalities for a visit, including meaningful access, to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and hope this can be achieved this year, particularly as reports of serious human rights violations continue to emerge", Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"We call on Chinese authorities to abide by their human rights obligations", the Canadian ambassador said which was backed by Britain, France, Germany, Australia, US, Italy among others as the joint statement was read out.

Yesterday's statement was bound to further enrage Beijing, which decries what it says is the interference by foreign powers in its internal affairs.

Government officials in Beijing and Hong Kong say the national security law is needed to avert threats to national security, and that the rights and freedoms of ordinary Hong Kong people are being be protected.

The statement "sends a crucial message to China's authorities that they are not above worldwide scrutiny", said Agnes Callamard, head of the rights group Amnesty global.

"China is not recognizing even that there is a problem ... that is why Canadians and people from around the world are speaking up for people like the Uighurs", Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka, Syria and Venezuela were among the co-signatories, according to the United Nations.

Norton acknowledged to the meeting Canada has "historically denied the rights of Indigenous peoples through assimilationist policies and practices".

Canada's residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families, constituted "cultural genocide", the truth and reconciliation commission said in 2015.

China and its allies called on Tuesday for an investigation into the discovery of the remains of indigenous children in Canada at the site of a former boarding school, prompting an angry response from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The representative of Belarus read another joint statement on behalf of 64 countries, supporting China and stressing that Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet were Chinese internal affairs.

We have been closely monitoring its application and the chilling impact it has had on the civic and democratic space, as well as independent media, Bachelet said in an apparent reference to the police crackdown on journalists, specially on the independent media house Apple Daily whose editor and other staff faced prosecution. Where is their truth?

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