UK Calls for ‘Urgent and Unfettered’ UN Access to Xinjiang

February 22, 2021 Updated: February 22, 2021

Britain on Feb. 22 condemned the Chinese regime’s “deteriorating human rights situation” and urged Beijing to give the United Nations “urgent and unfettered” access to Xinjiang.

Addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We stand with the growing number of international partners, U.N. experts, and NGOs concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation that we see in China. No one can ignore the evidence anymore.”

He said the situation in Xinjiang is “beyond the pale,” with “almost daily reports now that shine a new light on China’s systematic human rights violations perpetrated against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities.”

“The reported abuses—which include torture, forced labour and forced sterilisation of women—are extreme and they are extensive. They are taking place on an industrial scale,” he said.

“It must be our collective duty to ensure this does not go unanswered,” Raab said, adding that U.N. mechanisms “must respond.”

“The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, or another independent fact-finding expert, must—and I repeat must—be given urgent and unfettered access to Xinjiang,” he said.

Raab said the UK “will live up to” its responsibilities. On Jan. 12, he announced measures aimed at ensuring UK businesses and public bodies do not allow goods produced with slave labour in Xinjiang in their supply chains.

In Monday’s speech, Raab also raised concerns over the situation in Hong Kong, where “the rights of the people are being systematically violated.”

Hong Kong police
Riot police try to clear away people gathered in the Central district of downtown Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)

“The National Security Law is a clear breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and is having a chilling effect on personal freedoms,” he said, adding that “free and fair legislative elections must take place, with a range of opposition voices allowed to take part.”

Another focus of Raab’s speech was on Burma, also known as Myanmar, where the military junta seized power on Feb. 1 and arrested civilian leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi.

Last week, Britain, working in tandem with Canada, imposed asset freezes and travel bans against three members of the Burmese junta for their roles in “serious human rights violations” during the coup.

“The position in Myanmar gets worse. The violations and abuses are well documented, including arbitrary detention and draconian restrictions on freedom of expression,” Raab said.

He said the military “must step aside,” and civilian leaders “must be released.”

Raab also raised concerns over the crackdown on opposition figures in Belarus and the poisoning and detention of Alexei Navalny in Russia.