China has committed serious human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslim community which are potential crimes against humanity, the UN human rights chief says in the long-overdue blistering report released 13 minutes before she stepped down.
In her 48-page report, the UN’s outgoing human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, also called on countries to stop repatriating Uyghurs to China claiming that Beijing has targeted Uyghur Muslims.
According to Bachelet, her office has established that Beijing is conducting large-scale arbitrary detention in the Xinjiang region, where it resorts to intimidation and inhuman tactics like hunger and forced medical injection and violates the reproductive rights of women.
The UN office said in the report that authorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have committed serious human rights violations in the context of the application of Beijing’s counterterrorism and counter-extremism strategies.
The report, which at times reads like an Orwellian novel, cites information Bachelet gathered during her six-day visit to China earlier this year as well as interviews with 26 former detainees at facilities around Xinjiang.
It describes China’s domestic anti-terrorism law system as deeply problematic from the perspective of international human rights norms and standards, pointing out that these human rights violations stem out of it.
Alleging undue restrictions on religious identity and expression, and on the rights to privacy and movement in Xinjiang, the report concludes that the extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of Uyghurs and members of other predominantly Muslim groups may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.
UK-based Uyghur campaigner Rahima Mahmut is among the activists that are dissatisfied with the report’s refusal to use the term ‘genocide’, branding it a final insult to Uyghur survivors by UN, which can’t admit what is staring them plainly in the face.
Stressing that its policy in Xinjiang was about deradicalization and anti-terrorism, Beijing has rejected any assertion of human rights violations, with the Chinese Permanent Mission to the UN arguing that the so-called assessment runs counter to the mandate of Bachelet’s office.