China has asked the United Nations not to release the report, calling it a “farce” orchestrated by Western countries.
However, investigators reported discovering “credible evidence” of torture that may constitute “crimes against humanity.”
Human rights organizations have been sounding the alarm for years about the situation in the northwestern region, stating that more than one million Uyghurs are being held against their will in a vast network of “re-education camps”
The BBC’s investigation over the past few years has unearthed documents, such as police files listing individuals in detention, that appear to substantiate the claims, along with allegations of rape, torture, and forced sterility.
China has consistently denied all wrongdoing.
The UN assessment determined, however, that “the level of the arbitrary and discriminatory arrest of Uyghur and other largely Muslim populations… may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”
It also revealed:
“Allegations of patterns of torture or ill-treatment, including forced medical treatment and harsh circumstances of confinement, as well as specific cases of sexual and gender-based abuse, are believable.”
Since 2017, there have been credible signs of abuses of reproductive rights due to the forced execution of family planning regulations.
Similarly, there are signs that labor and employment programs ostensibly aimed at alleviating poverty and preventing ‘extremism’ may contain aspects of compulsion and discrimination based on religious or ethnic grounds.
The study recommends China take immediate action to release “all those arbitrarily detained.”
Beijing has already dismissed the results, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin telling reporters that the “so-called recommendations were stitched together based on falsehoods to serve political goals.”
- The faces of those detained in China’s Uyghur camps
- Who exactly are Uyghurs?
The World Uyghur Congress praised the report and requested a fast response from the international community.
Omer Kanat, executive director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, stated, “Despite the Chinese government’s vehement denials, the United Nations has now formally acknowledged that horrifying crimes are occurring.”
Beijing, which had access to the findings in advance, has denied claims of torture and defended the camps as a tool for combating terrorism.
China has consistently maintained that Uyghur militants are conducting a violent campaign for an independent state, although it has been accused of exaggerating the threat to justify its mistreatment of Uyghurs.
Its delegation to the UN human rights council in Geneva rejected the report’s conclusions on Thursday, claiming they “slandered and tarnished China” and interfered with the country’s internal affairs.
In the most important document in this section of the collection, officers are instructed to be armed in the case of an escape.
The papers state that when the alarm is activated, the perimeter roads must be sealed off, the buildings must be locked down, and the camp’s own armed police “strike group” must be dispatched.
If the “pupil” continues to attempt escape after a warning shot, the directive is clear: shoot them to death.
China argues that the camps give Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities lessons on how to avoid terrorism and extremism.
But the cache goes further than ever before in demonstrating the brutal, coercive character of these institutions aimed to eradicate virtually every part of Uyghur identity and replace it with Communist Party obedience.
The study has long been the focus of significant international interest, with UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet saying last week that she had been subjected to “enormous pressure to publish or not publish.”
Ms. Bachelet defended the delay, stating that engaging in communication with Beijing over the report’s contents did not constitute “turning a blind eye” to its contents. However, Amnesty International deemed it “unacceptable.”
The report was finally released 13 minutes before the conclusion of her four-year term.
And while it has been hailed by many, others, including the World Uyghur Conference, have expressed displeasure. According to spokesman Zumretay Arkin, they had “expected her to be tougher on China in general.”
Director of the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s Geneva office, Olaf Wientzek, went on to accuse Ms. Bachelet of having “avoided the repercussions” of the report’s publishing.
Ms. Bachelet, meantime, has blamed the “politicization” of the problem by certain nations, stating that it made “engagement and the ability to have a meaningful influence on the ground more difficult.”
The focus will now shift to what will occur next.
Uyghur rights groups are demanding the establishment of a commission of investigation and are urging businesses to sever all links with anyone assisting the Chinese government in its treatment of Uyghurs.
Tom Tugendhat, a member of parliament and chairman of the UK’s foreign affairs select committee, stated that the report’s conclusions constituted a “very serious accusation” and refuted Beijing’s claim that the claims stoked anti-Chinese sentiment. Germany has demanded the release of all Uyghurs jailed unfairly.
The issue of Uyghur human rights violations has long been taboo and extensively repressed; as of Thursday afternoon, neither Chinese mainstream media nor social media platforms had acknowledged the UN report.