Wed, Nov 07, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China pans UN criticism of human rights record

The Guardian

China has defended its human rights record after the first UN assessment since 2013 criticized the mass detention of lawyers and the continuing use of internment camps.

Beijing rejected claims made during the UN Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review that human rights in China had deteriorated, saying that some UN member nations were deliberately disregarding “the remarkable achievements made by China.”

The UN review singled out China’s policies in Xinjiang and Tibet and its treatment of human rights defenders. It called on Beijing to release detained Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, protect religious freedoms in Tibet, and stop harassing and detaining human rights lawyers.

Advocates have said that as many as 1 million Muslims have been arbitrarily detained in internment camps in Xinjiang, where they are forced to undergo political indoctrination.

“We will not accept the politically driven accusations from a few countries that are fraught with biases, with total disregard for facts,” Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng (樂玉成) said.

“No country shall dictate the definition of democracy and human rights,” he said.

Yesterday’s half-day UN panel meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, which included brief comments from more than 100 UN member states and responses from China, highlighted the range of human rights issues raised by advocates.

While some states praised Beijing’s progress on human rights, others issued harsher statements.

“Overall, we are concerned about the broader deterioration of human rights in China since the last universal periodic review,” Canada’s delegation said.

Germany called on China to “end all unlawful detentions in Xinjiang,” while Iceland and Japan expressed concern about the rights of minorities in Xinjiang.

Several states urged China to allow UN observers into Xinjiang.

The US called on China to abolish all internment camps in the far western territory and release the “possibly millions” detained there.

Chinese delegates said internment centers were not re-education camps, but vocational centers that offered free training in the law, language and workplace skills.

Trainees sign agreements and receive diplomas after their course, Urumqi Vice Mayor Yasheng Sidkie said. “Xinjiang is a nice place. I’d like to say: ‘Welcome to Xinjiang.’”

Spending on security-related construction doubled last year in Xinjiang, an analysis of government expenditure found on Monday.

Chinese officials reiterated earlier claims that the policies in Xinjiang were within the law.

“China is citing its own domestic laws to legitimize the camp system,” World Uyghur Congress spokesman Peter Erwin said. “Citing domestic legislation is meaningless if the legislation itself contradicts these clearly accepted human rights norms.”

Outside the UN headquarters in Geneva about 1,000 protesters organized by the World Uyghur Congress demonstrated against China’s policies in Xinjiang.

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