Global coalition calls on UN to confront China on human rights abuses

More than 300 humanitarian organizations from 60 countries want an international mechanism to monitor Beijing's violations. Repression in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang is targeted. The Chinese are accused of promoting "rights-free" development at home and in the rest of the world, and of using the UN for this purpose.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The United Nations must quickly create an independent international mechanism to tackle with China's human rights violations, write a global coalition of 321 civil society groups in an open letter sent to the UN yesterday. The groups hail from over 60 countries. “China’s disdain for human rights no longer affects only its citizens – its support for dictators and efforts to rewrite international standards are making the work of defending human rights harder than ever,” said Sarah Brooks, Brussels Liaison at the International Service for Human Rights. According to Renee Xia, head of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders, China has systematically persecuted human rights defenders in retaliation for their cooperation with UN operations on torture, enforced disappearances, incarceration and withdrawal of lawyers' licenses: “'The UN should no longer tolerate such treatment”. Amnesty International: “No state should be above the law.” Below we publish the full text of the letter.

We, the undersigned organizations, join together to call for an international mechanism to address the Chinese government’s human rights violations, and urge you to take decisive action to achieve this goal. On 26 June 2020, an unprecedented 50 United Nations experts called for “decisive measures to protect fundamental freedoms in China.” They highlighted China’s mass human rights violations in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang, suppression of information in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and attacks on rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and critics of the government across the country. Our organizations are also concerned about the impact of China’s rights violations world-wide. China has targeted human rights defenders abroad, suppressed academic freedom in countries around the world, and engaged in internet censorship and digital surveillance. We deplore China’s promotion of rights-free development and the ensuing environmental degradation at the hands of government-backed extractive industries, as well as the racist treatment of people in China, or by Chinese state actors in other parts of the world. We are dismayed at China’s efforts to distort the mandate of the UN Human Rights Council by promoting “cooperation” over accountability, and opposing initiatives to bring scrutiny of serious rights violations and international crimes in countries around the world. It has used its seat on the UN’s NGO Committee to baselessly deny accreditation to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), while accrediting government-organized NGOs (GONGOs). It has sought to deny access to human rights defenders to UN premises, denounced speakers on NGO side events as “terrorists,” and threatened delegates to deter them from attending UN side events on rights violations, including abuses in Xinjiang. When the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures, and dozens of states urged China to comply with international human rights standards, China contended that they were “improper remarks” that “grossly interfered” with China’s sovereignty. A state that tries to hold itself above any kind of scrutiny presents a fundamental threat to human rights. That China—a state with extraordinary global power—expects such treatment affects us all. We therefore endorse the call by UN experts for a Special Session of the Human Rights Council to evaluate the range of violations by China’s government, and to establish an impartial and independent UN mechanism to closely monitor, analyze, and report annually on that topic. We urge the UN Secretary-General to appoint a Special Envoy, consistent with his Call to Action on Human Rights, and we call on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to fulfil her independent mandate to monitor and publicly report on China’s sweeping rights violations. We support the call that UN member states and UN agencies use all interactions with Chinese authorities to insist that the government comply with its international human rights obligations. We write in the spirit of global solidarity and partnership, urging that you act swiftly to counter and remediate grave human rights violations committed by Chinese authorities. No state should be above the law.