UN Ambassadors: If Beijing has nothing to hide, allow unlimited access to Xinjiang
The request came during a conference organized by the USA and Human Rights Watch. Turkish delegate: We are very concerned about the plight of Uyghurs and other Islamic minorities in the region. Beijing: Accusation of genocide is " lies of the century".
New York (AsiaNews) - "If you have nothing to hide, why don't you finally grant unimpeded access [to Xinjiang] to the UN commissioner for human rights?" Christoph Heusgen, German ambassador to the United Nations, asked Beijing leaders yesterday during a videoconference organized by the US and Human Rights Watch on the repression of Uyghurs and other minority groups of Turkish origin living in the Chinese autonomous region.
According to expert data, confirmed by the United Nations, Chinese authorities hold or have held more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz from Xinjiang in concentration camps.
Media reports have revealed the existence of labour camps in the region, where hundreds of thousands of people apparently are forcibly employed, especially in cotton harvesting.
Some independent researchers also claim that the Chinese government is conducting a local campaign of forced sterilisations to control the growth of the Uyghur ethnic population.
Participants in the event, which according to various media outlets Beijing had tried to sabotage, asked the Chinese to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to close the Xinjiang concentration camps.
The Turkish delegation spoke of a "very worrying" situation. Ankara claims to have raised the issue to the Chinese authorities, asking for "immediate, meaningful and unrestricted access to the region from UN Commissioner Michelle Bachelet".
The Turkish intervention is of particular importance: as reported by AsiaNews, the Erdogan administration has recently been accused of having made agreements to repatriate Uyghur refugees to China in exchange for vaccines against Covid and economic aid.
The UN commissioner for human rights has not visited Xinjiang since 2005. Bachelet calls for freedom of movement to go to the region. The Chinese say they are ready to welcome all those who want to travel to Xinjiang, but add that they oppose investigations based on "lies" and with "presumption of guilt".
Chinese authorities have flatly denied the charges, calling them "fake news", claiming instead that the camps in Xinjiang are vocational centres, part of poverty reduction projects to fight against terrorism and separatism.