Communist and post-Communist oppression China | 08 September 2022

China: UN finally releases report on human rights in Xinjiang

On 31 August 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights at the UN published the long-awaited report about the Human Rights situation in Xinjiang, with just 12 minutes to spare before the Commissioner’s mandate ended.


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On 31 August 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights at the UN published the long-awaited report about the Human Rights situation in Xinjiang. A summary of the main points was made available in a press release (UN News, 31 August 2022).

World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller comments: “Publication of the report was announced and delayed several times in the past. Finally, ignoring strong and quite open Chinese pressure against publishing the 46 page report, it was released at what could be called the very last minute - a mere 12 minutes before the Commissioner’s mandate ended. Not surprisingly, Communist authorities were quick in stating that the whole report was an attempt at smearing China’s reputation. Apart from interfering in China’s internal affairs, China claims it distorts the facts and was a product of the collaboration of hostile forces (Radio Free Asia, 31 August 2022). China responded with a 131 page ‘note verbale’, of which a link was made available at the end of the UN report. Throughout the report, the official Chinese position is referenced in the footnotes.”

Thomas Muller continues: “While such responses to UN reports have been heard from other perpetrators as well, several points are interesting to note. At the beginning of the report, the authors state no less than three times that the report was compiled according to ‘standard OHCHR practice’ and ‘methodology’, as if to counter the very accusation the OHCHR is facing from China now. It conducted 40 interviews and concluded that there are indications that the authorities committed crimes against humanity The exact wording in the UN report is:

“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.” (para.148, emphasis added)

The Communist authorities went to such extraordinary lengths in an attempt to stop the publication of the report because they realized the United Nations still carries moral authority. It will be much harder to discredit this report than to attack reports from US/European NGOs or Uighur exile organizations.”

Thomas Muller notes: “While China’s official reaction has been quite fierce, it is interesting to note that, at least so far, this reaction has been aimed solely towards an international audience. Within China itself, there is not the slightest mention of the UN report, as China Digital Times reported on 2 September 2022. The fact that the nationalist army of little pinks* has not been called in to defend the Communist Party’s policy in Xinjiang may point to an internal assessment that the topic – similar to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre – is too sensitive to be even mentioned within the country.” (*social media commentators)

Thomas Muller continues: “The timing of the publication could hardly have been more inconvenient  for China. Besides all the other economic, social and political challenges the leaders are facing, the Communist Party (CCP) had just announced that its long-awaited 20th Party Congress (where Xi Jinping is expected to begin his third term as Secretary-General of the CCP) will begin on 16 October (The Diplomat, 30 August 2022). Xi Jinping would have much preferred to paint a more glorious picture of 2022 than the one unfolding now.”

Thomas Muller concludes: “While the UN report is necessarily focused on the situation in Xinjiang (XUAR) and the Muslim minority in China, especially the Uighurs, it makes one comment on the general state of freedom of religion in China, which is true for Christians as well. Footnote 82 ends:

However, laws and other legal texts applicable in China generally and in XUAR specifically regulate religion in a detailed, intrusive and particularly controlling manner. Religious activities are allowed only in Government-approved locations, conducted by Government-accredited personnel, and on the basis of Government-approved teachings and publications. Religious activity is strictly prohibited in ‘state institutions, schools of national education, public institutions and other places’. Children are not allowed to participate in religious activities.”


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