UK to challenge China at UN meeting for Xinjiang access

- ALJAZREERA - Feb 22, 2021 -

China has been under pressure from rights groups for years over its policies towards Uighur and other Muslim groups in the far western region of Xinjiang [File: Murad Sezer/Reuters]

UK foreign secretary will say UN needs ‘urgent and unfettered’ access to a region where some one million Uighurs are thought to have been held.

The United Kingdom will call on Monday for the United Nations to be given “urgent and unfettered” access to Xinjiang to investigate reports of abuses in the far western Chinese region, as Britain returns to the UN Human Rights Council as a voting member.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is also expected to condemn the rights record of fellow council members China and Russia and raise concerns about Myanmar and Belarus, his office said.

On China, Raab will refer to reports of abuses in Xinjiang, including torture, forced labour and the forced sterilisation of women. “They are taking place on an industrial scale,” he will tell the meeting, according to his office.

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

China has been widely condemned for detaining hundreds of thousands of people in Xinjiang and placing them in what it calls “vocational training centres” that it says are necessary to stamp out “extremism” and give people new skills. China’s critics have called them concentration camps.

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has been calling on China to allow her to visit the region since December 2018. A year ago, she asked for “unfettered access” to the region.


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