United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Friday said that Beijing was restricting basic civil and political freedoms of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and people of Hong Kong in the name of national security and coronavirus measures.
“In China, strong progress has been made over the last year in reducing the prevalence of Covid-19 and its severe impact on the enjoyment of a broad range of human rights. At the same time, fundamental rights and civic freedoms continue to be curtailed in the name of national security and the Covid-19 response,” she said in her address at the 46th session of the Human Rights Council.
The Human rights chief added, “Activists, lawyers and human rights defenders – as well as some foreign nationals – face arbitrary criminal charges, detention or unfair trials. In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, more than 600 people are being investigated for participating in various forms of protests – some under the new National Security Law.”
Bachelet further said that in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, information that is in the public domain indicates the need for independent and comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation.
“My office continues to assess the alleged patterns of human rights violations, including reports of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and sexual violence in institutions; coercive labour practises; and erosion of social and cultural rights. I am confident that through our ongoing dialogue we will find mutually agreeable parameters for my visit to China,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands Parliament on Thursday passed a motion saying the Chinese treatment of the Uyghur minority is “genocide”, becoming the first European country to do so.
The motion, which is nonbinding, could encourage other European parliaments to advance similar statements.
Similarly, last week, Canada’s House of Commons voted to declare China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority population a genocide. The motion was supported by all opposition parties and a handful of lawmakers from the governing Liberal Party.
In the US, the previous Trump administration determined that China has committed genocide against Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang and said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) must be held accountable for its acts against humanity.