UK denounces abuses, urges access to China's Xinjiang

Protesters outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington last Friday. They were taking part in a rally to encourage Canada and other countries as they consider labelling China's treatment of its Uighur population and Muslim minorities as genocide.
Protesters outside the Canadian Embassy in Washington last Friday. They were taking part in a rally to encourage Canada and other countries as they consider labelling China's treatment of its Uighur population and Muslim minorities as genocide.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Britain yesterday called for the United Nations to be given "urgent and unfettered" access to Xinjiang to investigate reports of abuses in the western Chinese region.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, in a recorded speech to the UN Human Rights Council, denounced torture that he said was taking place against Muslim Uighurs on an "industrial scale" in Xinjiang.

"The situation in Xinjiang is beyond the pale," he told the Geneva forum yesterday, where China is among the 47 member states.

"The reported abuses - which include torture, forced labour and forced sterilisation of women - are extreme and they are extensive. They are taking place on an industrial scale."

Activists and UN rights experts have said that at least one million Muslims are detained in camps in the remote region. China denied abuses and said that its camps provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.

Mr Raab called for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet or another independent expert to be given access to the Chinese region and called for a resolution at the council to this effect.

Mr Raab also said that the rights of people in Hong Kong - a former British colony - were being "systematically violated". The national security law imposed by China was inhibiting freedoms, he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2021, with the headline 'UK denounces abuses, urges access to China's Xinjiang'. Subscribe