A move to hold a discussion concerning alleged human rights violations by China against Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang was rejected by the UN rights council on Thursday. The motion was spearheaded by the West. 19 voted against, 17 voted for, and 11 abstained. The motion was proposed by a number of nations, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In the council’s sixteen-year history, this was the second time a motion was turned down.
Experts see it as a setback for the UN’s reputation as well as efforts to hold people accountable, as well as for the West’s moral leadership on human rights. ‘ What a catastrophe. I’m so disappointed in this’, Dolkun Isa, president of the World Uyghur Congress, whose mother passed away in a camp and whose two brothers have gone missing, made this statement. ‘Although we are really disappointed with how Muslim countries have responded, we will never give up’, he continued.
Those who opposed the proposal included Pakistan, Qatar, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates. According to Pakistan, the vote might enrage China. The International Service for Human Rights’ Phil Lynch described the voting history as ‘shameful’ on Twitter. In a statement late on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry stated that ‘Xinjiang-related concerns are not at all human rights issues, but rather issues of counter-terrorism, de-radicalization, and anti-separatism’.
The proposal, according to the post, was an effort by the US and some other Western nations to ‘interfere in China’s internal affairs by using the UN human rights organisation’. Prior to the voting, China’s representative had expressed concern that the proposal would set a standard for evaluating other nations’ human rights records. ‘ China is the focus today.’ Tomorrow any other emerging country will be attacked,’ said Chen Xu, adding that a debate would lead to ‘new clashes’.
In a report that was long overdue and was finally made public on August 31, the UN rights office found grave human rights breaches in Xinjiang that may have constituted crimes against humanity. Rights organisations accuse Beijing of mistreating Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority in the western region of Xinjiang with a population of about 10 million, including the widespread use of forced labour in internment camps.