Israel joins 50 nations in condemning China's imprisonment of Uyghurs

Another 66 nations, including the Palestinian Authority and Iran, issued a counter-statement in support of China, that was put forward by Cuba.

 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)
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)

Israel joined 50 countries including the United States in condemning China's forced imprisonment of over a million Uyghurs, according to a statement Canada's Ambassador Bob Rae read out at the United Nations Third Committee on Monday.

Another 66 nations, including the Palestinian Authority and Iran, issued a counter-statement in support of China, that was put forward by Cuba.

"Concerned about the human rights situation in the People’s Republic of China, especially the ongoing human rights violations of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang."

Canadian ambassador to the UN Ambassador Bob Rae

Concern over human rights in China

Rae said that the 50 signatories to his statement "were gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the People’s Republic of China, especially the ongoing human rights violations of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang."

The 50 nations called on China to take "prompt steps to release all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in Xinjiang, and to urgently clarify the fate and whereabouts of missing family members and facilitate safe contact and reunion."

Report on evidence of crimes against humanity

He referenced an August report by former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet, which concluded that China's discriminatory detention of the Uyghurs, “may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity."

A Chinese Uyghur Muslim participates in an anti-China protest during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019 (credit: REUTERS)A Chinese Uyghur Muslim participates in an anti-China protest during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan June 28, 2019 (credit: REUTERS)

Bachelet's report, he said, "relies extensively on China’s own records, it makes an important contribution to the existing evidence of serious and systematic human rights violations in China. 

"This includes evidence of large-scale arbitrary detention and systematic use of invasive surveillance on the basis of religion and ethnicity; severe and undue restrictions to legitimate cultural and religious practices, identity and expression," Rae said. 

It also includes "reports of destruction of mosques, shrines and cemeteries; torture, ill-treatment and sexual and gender-based violence, including forced abortion and sterilization; enforced disappearances and family separations; and forced labor. Such severe and systematic violations of human rights cannot be justified on the basis of counterterrorism.. ."

"We are concerned that China has so far refused to discuss its findings. In that context, we urge the Government of China to uphold its international human rights obligations and to fully implement the recommendations of the OHCHR assessment," Rae said.

Bachelet's report was released on her last day in office. In October the 47-member UN Human Rights Council in Geneva voted 17-19, with 11 abstentions, not to debate that report during its 54th session.

"This includes evidence of large-scale arbitrary detention and systematic use of invasive surveillance on the basis of religion and ethnicity; severe and undue restrictions to legitimate cultural and religious practices, identity and expression."

Canadian ambassador to the UN Ambassador Bob Rae

"Smear campaign against China"

At the Third Committee on Monday, a Chinese envoy accused the US and Canada of conducting a smear campaign against it with its 50-nation statement of condemnation. 

"A minority of countries such as Canada and the US, in their intractable bigotry and as a small clique,  instigated political confrontation through a smear campaign against China," the envoy said. 

He referenced Cuba's statement in its support. "What is right and wrong is all too clear. So is the sentiment of the international community. No matter how the US and a handful of other Western countries package their anti-China statement they cannot hide their malicious political intentions that are doomed to failure,' he explained.

"The real purpose is to destabilize China and ..to maintain their hegemony by exploiting human rights issues," he said.  

"A minority of countries such as Canada and the US, in their intractable bigotry and as a small clique,  instigated political confrontation through a smear campaign against China."

Chinese envoy

After facing defeat in Geneva, these countries "being the store losers that they are, they have now funneled their flames of belligerence to this committee," the Chinese envoy said.