As many as 51 countries signed a joint statement against China over atrocities by its regime against the Uighur population in Xinjiang region. The statement was signed at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with human rights issues.
“These violations include arbitrary detentions, forced labour, cultural assimilation, intrusive surveillance, forced population control measures, separation of children from families, enforced disappearances and even psychological, physical and sexual torture,” the statement said.
Uighur activists say the statement on East Turkestan, the name that Uighur exiles use for Xinjiang, shines the spotlight “on the continuous and severe violations being inflicted upon the Uighur and other predominantly Muslim communities by the Chinese regime”.
The following countries signed the statement:
- The Netherlands
- North Macedonia
- New Zealand
- Republic of Marshall Islands
- San Marino
- United States
- United Kingdom
Uighur groups called on the international community to stand together and “confront the alarming human rights abuses taking place in East Turkestan”.
“It is crucial that we reassess the strategies and diplomatic channels utilised to enhance international cooperation and ensure concrete actions are taken to address the atrocities occurring in East Turkestan. Unfortunately, engaging in mere statements, calling on China to cease its atrocities, is not enough, we need action,” said Uyghur-American activist Rushan Abbas.
Xinjiang is a vast but sparsely populated region of mountains, forests and deserts in far northwestern China that borders Russia, Pakistan and several Central Asian nations. The Communist Party took complete control of it following its 1949 victory in the Chinese civil war.
Xinjiang’s Uyghurs, along with the closely related Kazakh and Kyrgyz, are predominantly Turkic Muslims who are culturally, religiously and linguistically distinct from China’s dominant Han ethnic group. Repression under Communist rule, particularly during the violent and xenophobic 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, stirred deep animosity in Xinjiang toward the government, aggravated further by the migration of Han to the region and their domination of political and economic life.
A protest movement began in the 1990s and remained at a relatively low level until simmering anger exploded in a 2009 riot in the regional capital of Urumqi that left an estimated 200 people dead.
A United Nations report had last year flagged human rights abuses in Xinjiang region targeting Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim ethnic minorities, validating claims that more than 1 million ethnic minority members were forcibly sent to centers Beijing says were for vocational training.