The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published its long-awaited report on Wednesday, on China’s atrocities in East Turkistan (renamed Xinjiang).
The report titled ‘OHCHR Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’ came at the last minute following the resignation of UN Commissioner Michelle Bachelet.
The report said Uyghur and other Turkic prisoners had been subjected to “patterns of ill-treatment,” including “incidents of sexual and gender-based violence.”
It also stated that those outside the prisons and concentration camps were subjected to forced medication and “discriminatory enforcement of family planning and birth control policies.”
It should be noted that the UN Genocide Convention defines “causing serious boldly or mental harm to members of the group” and “imposing measures to prevent births within the group” as acts of genocide.
Although the UN report failed to acknowledge and condemn China’s atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples as genocide, it however recommended that China immediately takes steps to release “all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty” and suggested that some of Beijing’s actions could amount to the “commission of international crimes, including crimes against humanity.”
The report has been received with great disappointment by the East Turkistani / Uyghur diaspora for its failure to acknowledge and condemn China’s ongoing genocide in East Turkistan.
“The report is weak and doesn’t do justice to the people of East Turkistan,” said Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile. “The long-awaited UN Human Rights Report dismally doesn’t mention that what China is doing is genocide,” he added.
The Government of the People’s Republic of China has long been pressuring the UN to remain silent on its ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan.
Before the report was published, China’s top UN envoy stated that Beijing remained “firmly opposed” to the report’s release, which may explain the delay.
“We fear that the fact the UN waited until the very last minute to publish the report shows that the UN leadership may have been negotiating with China on what terminologies and recommendations are to be included in the report,” said President Ghulam Yaghma of the East Turkistan Government in Exile.
“The fact that the UN report doesn’t acknowledge or condemn the ongoing genocide shows that the UN report was watered down to appease China,” he added.
While the UN report had numerous recommendations for the Chinese government, it failed to provide any recommendations to the international community, the UN General Assembly, and its member states.
“The UN report has no recommendations calling on the international governments or bodies, like the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, to launch an investigation to the atrocities that continue to transpire in East Turkistan,” said Dr. Mamtimin Ala, the EU Representative and Strategic Advisor of the East Turkistan Government in Exile.
“We urge the UN and its member states to act swiftly by establishing an Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on East Turkistan in coordination with the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.” he said.
“And while the report is very disappointing to the East Turkistani people, we nonetheless hope that it will help to move the UN leadership and international governments to take meaningful actions to address this 21st-century humanitarian crisis,” said Prime Minister Salih Hudayar.
“Time is running out for East Turkistan and its people; we implore the international community to act to end China’s ongoing campaign of colonization, genocide, and occupation before it’s too late,” he said.
Although the UN said it could not be sure how many people have been held by the government, human rights groups estimate that more than a million people have been detained at camps in the East Turkistan, reports the BBC
Several countries have previously described China’s actions in East Turkistan as a genocide.
Ms. Bachelet’s term has been dominated by the accusations of abuse against the Uyghurs.
Ms. Bachelet’s office indicated that an investigation into allegations of genocide in East Turkistan was under way over a year ago.
But publication was delayed several times, leading to accusations by some Western human rights groups that Beijing was urging her to bury damaging findings in the report.
And even in the final hours before the report was published, China has been putting pressure on Ms. Bachelet not to release it.
In a news conference last Thursday, she admitted that she was under “tremendous pressure to publish or not to publish” the report.
But she defended the delay, arguing that seeking dialogue with Beijing over the report did not mean she was “turning a blind eye” to the contents of the report.