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UN: Possible crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China

A long-awaited report from the United Nations Human Rights Council says human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims stem from “anti-terror law regulations.”

China’s detention of mostly Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang may amount to “crimes against humanity,” the United Nations Human Rights Council said in a long-awaited report recently released late Wednesday.

The 45-page report (PDF) called on Beijing to immediately release “all individuals arbitrarily deprived of their liberty”, clarify the whereabouts of those whose families have not been able to locate and conduct a “full review” of its internal security laws. Repeal all discriminatory laws.

The United Nations revealed in 2018 that about one million people are being held in a network of detention centers across Xinjiang, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called for “unrestricted” access to visit the region and assess the situation.

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Bachelet, whose term expired on Wednesday minutes after the report was published, was finally allowed to enter China in May. After the tightly designed visit, which drew criticism from human rights groups and other experts, she announced that she would not run for a second term.

The report stated that “serious human rights violations” were committed “in Xinjiang” in the context of the government’s implementation of strategies to combat terrorism and “extremism”.

“The extent of the arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim groups … may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.”

Beijing initially denied the camps’ existence but later said they were vocational skills training centers necessary to counter “extremism”.

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