The report, comprising 48 pages, declared that China has committed serious human rights violations in Xinjiang is a sharp blow to Beijing’s zealous efforts to denigrate Uyghurs who spoke about their rights.HONG KONG — At first, China claimed the existence of “no such thing” as the re-education camps that were home to huge populations of people living in the west of its Xinjiang region. As more news revelations emerged about the fact that thousands of Uyghurs as well as members of other mostly Muslim groups were detained, Beijing acknowledged the camps however, describing them as vocational schools.
As Uyghurs abroad voiced their concerns about the authorities’ repressions at Xinjiang, China targeted their family members back home, securing relatives to lengthy sentences in prison and using the full power of the state media and well-known Chinese diplomats to condemn the Uyghurs as frauds and frauds.
Many Uyghur militants who fought and often at a high personal expense — to bring China’s brutal crackdown in Xinjiang to the light of day and a United Nations report released Wednesday which largely confirmed their claims was a decisive but long-delayed validation.
The report of 48 pages, which declared that China has committed serious human rights violations in Xinjiang is a sharp blow to Beijing’s adamant efforts to discredit Uyghurs who dare to speak about the issue. It also adds an additional boost in activists Uyghur activist’s cause as well as gives rights advocates the chance to present the issue to the U.N. Human Rights Council in the coming months and to push businesses to disengage their business from China.
“As I was reading the entire report, I was fighting back tears,” said Rayhan Asat, a Uyghur lawyer from Washington who’s Brother, Ekpar, was sentenced in 2020 to 15 years of jail in Xinjiang. “It was a long-awaited recognition of the suffering of my brother and millions like him.”
Many Uyghurs from abroad and other activists were skeptical whether it was likely that U.N. office would release an authoritative report because of Beijing’s growing influence on the world body, as well as the unwillingness from Michelle Bachelet, who stepped off on Wednesday as the U.N. high commissioner for human rights to speak out against China.
However, in the final moments of her tenure in office, Bachelet’s office published an official document saying that the crackdown by China in Xinjiang could amount to crimes against humanity. It was which was a shocking assessment that shook certain critics who thought her office was more likely to take a stand to gain access to the region and closer ties with Beijing.
“I am heartened that courageous survivors’ voices were given their deserved weight,” said Asat the lawyer from Washington. Asat said it was hard to read certain sections of the report that provided credible evidence of mistreatment, torture and sexual assaults while in the custody of police. “I know my brother was subject to brutal torture and all sorts of inhumane treatment,” she spoke of the experience he endured while in internment camps for 3 years, from 2013 to 2019. “I do my best to not contemplate it. It’s self-defeating and does not aid me in staying vigilant about the reasons it is that I am fighting.”
Some activists said they were more concerned in the final time in office in which she suggested it was possible that the document, that has been delayed for more than an entire year, may not be published prior to her departure. China had requested her office to not publish the report and had provided lengthy responses when they were shown the draft as per the normal procedure for the U.N. office.
The United Nations attached China’s 131-page response to the China’s 131-page report as an annex. The report was described as”a “so-called ‘assessment” that was “based on disinformation and lies.”
Many Uyghur activists claimed it would have been beneficial to read the report ahead of time, they were hopeful that it would lend credibility to an effort that they believe has been masked by the coronavirus outbreak as well as in particular, by the Russian invading of Ukraine along with other global issues.
“Hopefully, it will ignite another fire, and so it will get more attention from other countries, other NGOs and the U.N. and there will be more action to stop it,” said Ferkat Jawdat an Uyghur living in Virginia her mother was imprisoned in Xinjiang and is now isolated at home in Urumqi which is the capital of the region.
Certain activists were in the negative of this U.N. Human Rights group and claimed that it didn’t push enough to call China to be accountable. They also noted that the report did not consider the brutality in Xinjiang an “genocide,” a conclusion that was reached from both the United States and an unofficial tribunal in Britain in spite of the fact that the report detailed the elements of an evaluation, which included the “stark” decline of Uyghur birthrates, the desecration of mosques and shrines, and restrictions on Uyghur education.
“Despite well-documented evidence of state-sponsored torture and the intended destruction of the entire Uyghur ethnic groups through massive concentration camps, physical and mental torture, slave labor, massive displacement, enforced sterilization to prevent population growth and separation of children from their parents, the U.N. report came short of calling the crime by name,” said Mehmet Tohti director of the executive office from the Ottawa-based Uyghur rights advocacy project. “It seems to me that the report has gone through serious haircuts.”
However, for individuals who have seen their relatives detained and also being publicly attacked by the Chinese government, the report provides a victory though it isn’t quite enough of their desire for freedom for their loved ones.
The report provides an argument to China’s critics about the steps they are able to present their case into the Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ leading rights body, to advocate for more accountability. Rights groups have asked the Human Rights Council to create formal mechanisms for investigating China on violations to international laws and to identify the perpetrators, however Beijing as well as other nations that are in support of the idea could hinder the attempt.
“It is imperative that nations take this report and make concrete steps toward stopping these crimes against humanity and holding China accountable for them,” said Rushan Abbas an Uyghur american activist, and an ex Defense Department translator whose sister was sentenced to 20 years of prison, in apparent retaliation to Abbas in his attempts to voice his opinion about the oppression in Xinjiang.
“I hope that the U.N. will use their influence and position to advocate for the freedom of all the innocent Uyghurs like my loving sister.”