China attempts to mar UN talk on Uyghur rights concerns


China has urged United Nations member states not to attend a virtual UN event planned on Wednesday to address the repression of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in its northwest Xinjiang region.

The ambassadors of Germany, the US and Britain are due to address the virtual UN event along with the Human Rights Watch executive director, Ken Roth, and the Amnesty secretary general, Agnes Callamard.

The aim of the event is to “discuss how the UN system, member states and civil society can support and advocate for the human rights of members of ethnic Turkic communities in Xinjiang”, according to an invitation.

China charged that the organisers of the event, which include several other European states along with Australia and Canada, use “human rights issues as a political tool to interfere in China’s internal affairs like Xinjiang, to create division and turbulence and disrupt China’s development”.

China’s UN mission wrote in the note, dated Thursday: “It is a politically motivated event … We request your mission NOT to participate in this anti-China event.” The Chinese mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Louis Charbonneau, the Human Rights Watch UN director, said on Friday: “Beijing has been trying for years to bully governments into silence but that strategy has failed miserably, as more and more states step forward to voice horror and revulsion at China’s crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.”

Western states and rights groups have accused authorities in Xinjiang of detaining and torturing Uyghurs in camps, which the United States has described as genocide.

In January, Washington banned the import of cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang over allegations of forced labour. Beijing denies the accusations and describes the camps as vocational training centres to combat religious extremism. (Source: The Guardian)