FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo, residents wearing masks ride pass government propaganda with slogans some of which read “Forever follow the Party” and “China’s Ethnicities One Family” in the city of Aksu in western China’s Xinjiang region. A human rights group appealed to the United Nations on Monday, April 19, 2021 to investigate allegations China’s government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo, residents wearing masks ride pass government propaganda with slogans some of which read “Forever follow the Party” and “China’s Ethnicities One Family” in the city of Aksu in western China’s Xinjiang region. A human rights group appealed to the United Nations on Monday, April 19, 2021 to investigate allegations China’s government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Group urges UN to probe China for crimes against humanity

The Chinese government rejects complaints of abuses and says the camps are for job training

A human rights group appealed to the United Nations on Monday to investigate allegations China’s government is committing crimes against humanity in the Xinjiang region.

Human Rights Watch cited reports of the mass detention of Muslims, a crackdown on religious practices and other measures against minorities in the northwestern region. It said they amount to crimes against humanity as defined by the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.

China is not a member of the court and could use its veto power as a permanent U.N. Security Council member to block action against Chinese officials, Human Rights Watch said in a report. However, the New York-based group said the U.N. Human Rights Commission should create a body to investigate the charges, identify those responsible and provide a road map to hold them accountable.

More than 1 million people have been confined to camps in Xinjiang, according to foreign governments and researchers. Authorities there are accused of imposing forced labour and birth controls.

The Chinese government rejects complaints of abuses and says the camps are for job training to support economic development and combat Islamic radicalism. The government is pressing foreign clothing and shoe brands to reverse decisions to stop using cotton from Xinjiang due to reports of possible forced labour there.

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in the final days of the Trump administration that China was committing genocide in Xinjiang. His successor under President Joe Biden, Antony Blinken, has retained that designation.

The parliaments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada have accused Beijing of genocide, though Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been reluctant to use the term.

A spokesman for the ruling Communist Party on Monday rejected accusations Beijing has committed genocide or crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.

Such remarks by Pompeo and others “are totally opposite to the reality in Xinjiang,” said Xu Guixiang, deputy director-general of the party’s propaganda department for Xinjiang.

“You can see stability and harmony in Xinjiang,” Xu said in Kashgar, a historic Silk Road city in southern Xinjiang. “There are no crimes against humanity or genocide, and the populations of ethnic minorities and Uyghurs are on the rise.”

Human Rights Watch, which said it was assisted in the report by a Stanford University Law School human rights clinic, said it had not documented genocidal intent.

However, “if such evidence were to emerge, the acts being committed against Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang … could also support a finding of genocide,” the report said.

China has denied the United Nations unfettered access to the region to investigate.

“Who has done the investigation? Who is in the position to act as the judge? And where is the evidence? There isn’t any,” Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng told The Associated Press in an interview last week. “They put sanctions on us and then they say they would like to come and do an investigation to collect the evidence. I think this is typical presumption of guilt.”

The United States has imposed travel and financial sanctions on Chinese officials accused of abuses in Xinjiang. Washington has blocked imports from several companies and of cotton and tomato products from the region.

The Human Rights Watch report called on the European Commission to hold off on submitting a proposed EU-China investment treaty to the European Parliament for approval until the forced labour allegations are investigated, abuses addressed, victims compensated and progress made toward holding those responsible accountable.

The announcement last year that treaty negotiations were completed prompted questions about whether the West could hold China accountable on human rights.

___

Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press

ChinaUnited Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. (File photo)
North Cowichan considers extending deadline for property tax payments

A two-month deadline extension to Sept. 1 gets three readings

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Letters to the Editor.
Speedy service by operations department

North Cowichan responds to deplorable conditions at Askew Creek Park

The Yellow Sub Machine has been open for business for nearly two months. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Pandemic pivot leads to the creation of the Yellow Sub Machine for gourmet sub grub

Former Odika owners stake their claim in the food truck business

Letters to the Editor.
Southern tribute brings back abundant memories

Growing up a great time with a friend lost far too soon

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A worker rides a bike at a B.C. Hydro substation in Vancouver, on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Hydro report raises safety concerns as pandemic prompts jump in yard work

Incidents involving weekend tree trimmers, gardeners and landscapers have risen 30% since the pandemic hit

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read