THE Chinese government should halt its persecution of Uighur Muslims, the Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has said, after the UK Government joined 22 other countries in raising concerns about human-rights violations in the Xinjiang region.
Reading out the joint statement at the UN headquarters on 29 October, the UK ambassador, Karen Pierce, said that the group of 23 “share the concerns” raised by the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in their August 2018 report (News, 14 December 2018) “regarding credible reports of mass detention; efforts to restrict cultural and religious practices; mass surveillance disproportionately targeting ethnic Uighurs; and other human-rights violations and abuses in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region”.
They called on the Chinese government to “uphold its national laws and international obligations and commitments to respect human rights”, and implement the committee’s recommendations, including “refraining from the arbitrary detention of Uighurs and members of other Muslim communities”. It should also allow UN investigators “immediate unfettered, meaningful access to Xinjiang”.
Last week, Dr Smith said that, in the middle of the General Election campaign, “it is important that we do not take our eyes off pressing human-rights abuses across the world. . . It’s important that we speak out on behalf of the Uighurs who are facing untold suffering because of their faith.
“I hope the leaders of the People’s Republic of China will halt their persecution of Uighurs, and begin working with international and domestic organisations to uphold their legal and moral duties.”
The statement at the UN was welcomed by the East Asia team leader for Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Benedict Rogers, who said that international action to put pressure on China was “long overdue”.
Last week, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that family members of Uighur Muslim activists and survivors of Xinjiang internment camps had been “harassed, imprisoned, or arbitrarily detained”, in some cases shortly after having met State Department officials.