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Ensure observers’ access to Xinjiang: 42 countries to China

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has been called for ‘immediate’ access in a joint declaration by 42 countries, including Turkey. Several countries from the United Nations (UN) have expressed concern about the mounting violations of rights experienced by Uyghurs and other minority groups in northwestern China.

In a statement issued by the UN third committee on human rights, the member states expressed ‘especially deep concern’ about the situation in Xinjiang, referring to the treatment of minorities in China. It reports a widespread network of ‘political re-education’ camps, systematic human rights violations and forced sterilization, as well as ‘severe restrictions’ on freedom of religion:

 ‘We urge China to allow immediate, meaningful, and unhindered access to Xinjiang by independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and her Office, and relevant special procedure mandate holders, as well as to implement the eight recommendations of CERD concerning Xinjiang’. The statement continues, ‘We urge China to respect the rule of law and to comply with its obligations under national and international law with regards to the protection of human rights’.

China condemns the statement
Beijing’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, has criticized the statement as a ‘lie’ and a ‘plot to harm China’. Cuba has also supported China, saying internal affairs should not be meddled with. Germany and the United Kingdom (UK) made similar statements in 2019 and 2020. A similar declaration was signed by Turkey this year.

In light of the deteriorating relations between Haiti and China due to China’s recognition of Taiwan, Haiti has withdrawn its support for the declaration. In line with AFP’s report based on diplomatic sources, Switzerland has also withdrawn its signature on the grounds that it hosted a high-level meeting between the US and China, and thus decided to prioritize this role instead of signing the declaration.

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The signatories
Albania, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Esvatini, Finland, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, England, Turkey and France.


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