GENEVA —Human-rights activists are calling for United Nations member states to pressure China this week to account for alleged violations, including the suspected detention of one million Muslim Uyghurs in the far-western Xinjiang region.
China’s record will be examined for the first time since 2013 by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Nov. 6, in a review expected to focus on its treatment of ethnic minorities, especially Uyghurs and Tibetans. The Chinese regime has used the excuse of potential Islamic threats, “extremism,” and ethnic riots to crack down on the Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.
Uyghurs and other Muslims are being held in concentration camp-like facilities, known as “re-education” centers, are forbidden from using Islamic greetings, must learn Mandarin Chinese, and also sing propaganda songs, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
Activists sharply criticized Beijing’s rights record.
“In the past five years, generally the human-rights situation in China has been getting worse, particularly in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) and Tibet, there has been an unimaginable deterioration,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uighur Congress. “That’s why we expect that the countries should be speaking loudly and strongly,” he told Reuters in an interview at an activist forum on China held in Geneva on Nov. 2.
Xinjiang has become a “police state” where his mother died in a “concentration camp” in May, Isa said, adding: “We have never heard of people coming out from the camps.”
Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, told Reuters at the event: “The detention of over a million ethnic Uyghurs is a tipping point for the international community. They really can’t look the other way now…”
Le Yucheng, vice minister of foreign affairs, will lead China’s delegation to the session.
“The Human Rights Council must send an unequivocal message to the Chinese government that their campaign of systematic repression in the XUAR (Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region), including the arbitrary detention of up to one million people, must end,” Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, said in a statement.
Lobsang Sangay, head of the Tibetan government in exile, took a swipe at Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s mantra of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.”
“Socialism with Chinese characteristics means no democracy, one party dictatorship and essentially no human rights,” Sangay said in a keynote speech at the Geneva event.
“If the U.N. Human Rights Council cannot make China accountable for human rights violations, then who will?” said Golog Jigme, a Tibetan monk dressed in crimson robes, who gave testimony about three jail terms he served before escaping and gaining political asylum in Switzerland in 2015.
“I still have scars on my hands and feet from torture sustained in prison,” he told the forum.
“Please review the human-rights situation in China carefully, critically. If the U.N. fails to make China accountable this time, it failed all humanity.”
By Stephanie Nebehay. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.