Uyghur groups call for UN action against China over rights abuses

During a two-day UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) review in Geneva, participants asked China's delegation about the country's treatment of minorities, including Uyghurs

 : Activists take part in a protest against China's treatment towards the ethnic Uyghur people and calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, at a park Jakarta, Indonesia, January 4, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/WILLY KURNIAWAN/FILE PHOTO)
: Activists take part in a protest against China's treatment towards the ethnic Uyghur people and calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, at a park Jakarta, Indonesia, January 4, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/WILLY KURNIAWAN/FILE PHOTO)

Uyghur advocacy groups called on United Nations bodies to take action against China on Thursday over its abuses against the mainly Muslim ethnic minority, after UN experts this week reviewed Beijing's rights record.

During a two-day UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) review in Geneva, participants asked China's delegation about the country's treatment of minorities, including Uyghurs in the western region of Xinjiang, and measures to end forced labor and arbitrary detentions, among other issues.

Beijing vehemently denies abuses

 The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends her final news conference before the end of her mandate at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, August 25, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/PIERRE ALBOUY) The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends her final news conference before the end of her mandate at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, August 25, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/PIERRE ALBOUY)

"Yet another group of independent UN experts have raised serious concerns about the ongoing brutality faced by Uyghurs," Omer Kanat, Executive Director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, said in a joint statement with the World Uyghur Congress.

"And once again the Chinese government continues to deny and distract from the factual evidence presented. It's long past time for the UN system to respond in a more comprehensive way."

The Chinese permanent mission to the United Nations Office in Geneva and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent after business hours.

A report released in August by Michelle Bachelet, then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, hours before she ended her mandate, found that China's detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims may constitute crimes against humanity.

A Western-led bid to hold a debate on China's treatment of Muslim populations at the UN Human Rights Council, however, failed to pass.

Human Rights Watch, which on Monday called on the UN to follow up on the report, on Thursday joined several other groups in urging the European Union to drop what it called "meaningless" rights talks with Beijing.

"Lacking any prospect for concrete progress, the EU should suspend the dialogs and double down on its efforts to secure UN action on China's abysmal record and pursue accountability for international crimes committed in Xinjiang," Philippe Dam, EU director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.