China: CSW Deeply Disappointed By HRC Failure To Permit Debate On The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

CSW has joined Uyghurs and Chinese and international human rights organisations in expressing deep disappointment at a UN Human Rights Council (HRC) vote on 6 October which blocked a procedural draft decision that would have enabled a debate on the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) during the HRC session in March 2023.

The draft decision was presented jointly by the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. It was defeated by a margin of two votes, with 19 states voting against, 17 voting for, and 12 abstaining.

Had it taken place, the debate would have marked the first time that the situation of human rights in China was on the Council’s agenda.

On 31 August 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report on the situation in the XUAR which concluded that: “The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups, pursuant to law and policy, in context of restrictions and deprivation more generally of fundamental rights enjoyed individually and collectively, may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”

The findings are consistent with those of hundreds of Chinese and international human rights organisations, as well as over 40 UN experts. There is a wealth of corroborating evidence, including testimonies from witnesses, victims and their family members, academic research, satellite images, and leaked government documents.

CSW’s UN Officer Claire Denman said: “CSW is deeply disappointed at the decision by 19 states to vote against a draft decision which would have enabled much-needed scrutiny of the human rights situation of human rights in the XUAR, and reminds the 12 abstaining states that silence in the face of such egregious violations is an act of complicity that enables impunity. The evidence of what is happening in the XUAR points to one of the most severe human rights crises in the world today. The international community must not sit back and allow it to continue. We reiterate our call for the establishment of an independent international investigative mechanism for the XUAR with regular reporting to the Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly, and for the imposition of co-ordinated and targeted sanctions against policymakers and others found responsible for human rights abuses in the region. CSW will continue to stand in solidarity with members of the Uyghur community, and with all other ethnic and religious minorities who are facing targeted oppression by the Chinese authorities.  While we are disappointed at the HRC’s decision, we remain determined to persist until justice is served for the people of the XUAR and across China as a whole.”

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