GENEVA: The United Nations released a bombshell report into serious human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region late on Wednesday (Aug 31), saying torture allegations were credible and citing possible crimes against humanity.
The report, in the making for around a year, was released in Geneva at 11.47pm on Wednesday – just 13 minutes before Michelle Bachelet’s four-year term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expired.
The former Chilean president was determined to ensure the report saw the light of day – despite intense pressure from an infuriated Beijing.
“I said that I would publish it before my mandate ended and I have,” Bachelet said in an email sent to AFP.
“The issues are serious – and I raised them with high-level national and regional authorities in the country.”
China has been accused for years of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the far-western Xinjiang region.
Campaigners have accused China of a litany of abuses, while Beijing has vehemently rejected the claims, insisting it is running vocational training centres in Xinjiang designed to counter extremism.
Bachelet eventually decided that a full assessment was needed of the situation inside the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
TORTURE ALLEGATIONS “CREDIBLE”
“Serious human rights violations have been committed in XUAR in the context of the government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter-‘extremism’ strategies,” the report said.
The assessment raised concerns about the treatment of people held in China’s so-called “Vocational Education and Training Centres”.
“Allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and adverse conditions of detention, are credible, as are allegations of individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence,” the report said.
“The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups, pursuant to law and policy, in context of restrictions and deprivation more generally of fundamental rights enjoyed individually and collectively, may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,” it added.