The United States, Germany and Britain have clashed with China at the United Nations over its treatment of Uighurs and members of other Islamist groups in Xinjiang, while continuing to do what Beijing urged UN member states to stay away from.
“We will continue to stand and speak until the Chinese government relinquishes its crimes against humanity and the killing of Uighurs and a few others in Xinjiang,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the event, which organizers said were attended by about 50 countries Wednesday.
The United Nations, Western nations, students and hundreds of Uighurs have been sent to Western training camps. China acknowledged the existence of the prisons but said it was a training ground for practical work to deal with strong groups.
“In Xinjiang people are being tortured. “Women are being coerced,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard told the event that there were millions of Uighurs and that many Muslim tribes were imprisoned without good reason.
In a statement to UN member states last week, Chinese missions in China denied the allegations were “false and misleading” and criticized countries that are planning to “continue to quarrel with China”.
It also urged countries “not to take part in the anti-China movement,” but on Wednesday the Chinese ambassador responded.
“China has no hiding place in Xinjiang,” Chinese ambassador Guo Jiakun said. “Xinjiang is always open. We welcome anyone to come to Xinjiang but we oppose any kind of investigation because it is false and we think it is wrong. ”
The event was organized by Germany, the US and Britain and is sponsored by Canada, Australia, New Zealand and several other European countries.
Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, told the conference that “there is evidence that many people have been arrested without cause, forced to leave their homes and tortured.
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There are also reports of the demolition of Islamic cemeteries, the separation of children by Uighurs who are forced to eat pork contrary to their beliefs.
“We are here today to do this. And to ask China to allow for faster, more meaningful and immovable access to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and its Office, “Woodward said.
“We call on China to respect international human rights and we urge China to abolish prisons,” German ambassador Christoph Heusgen added.
“If you have nothing to hide, why not give a chance to the Chief Commissioner for Human Rights?” Asked China.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet was not present at the ceremony and her attendance was made known by Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth.
“I hope he’s busy,” she said. “You know that we are all. But I also have a responsibility to protect human rights equally around the world and I would not think of anything more important than coming here today. ”
Ravina Shamdasani, deputy spokesman for the UN Human Rights Office, said Bachelet – who has spoken out in Xinjiang – has not been able to take part.
“The High Commissioner continues to liaise with the Chinese authorities on what to do,” he said, adding that the Bachelet office “continues to analyze and evaluate key issues and adhere closely.”
Later Wednesday, in launching their annual report on religious freedom around the world, a member of the US State department, criticized China for turning Xinjiang into “open prison“.
Daniel Nadel, a senior official in the State Department of International Freedom, said people were being carefully monitored.
“People’s mobility is closely monitored,” he told a news conference. “You have minders who have been selected to stay with the Uighurs to take care of them. You have people going to the market who have to see every time they go to another market,” he said.
The report also described China’s persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual group.